I'm James Seymour-Lock, working remote while running an agency from a new country every month, AMA

Hey everyone!

So I’ve been nomad for coming up one year, I’m a Front-end developer and product developer and co-founded the UX Agency Simple as Milk.

A company which is run on the road from a new country every month by myself and founder David.

I’m a keen photographer and occasionally blog about my travels over on james.sl

My favourite topics include startups, travel, tech, remote working and remote team management.

AMA.

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How you manage to not afraid clients when you say you change every month your location ?

Our clients tend to be tech startups, luckily for us startups tend to be far more forward thinking than many companies so they haven’t had any issues or problems yet providing time zones are coordinated well.

We’ve only met a very small % of our clients, as before going nomad we worked remote from our office in the UK, with the majority of our clients residing in the US we’ve always worked remote. I think that track record of being able to manage remote working has carried over when we decided to get rid of the office and take the company on the road.

Hey James!

What countries are next on your list?

How do you tend to acquire new clients whilst on the road?

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I’m currently working out where to spend Christmas, Norway is on the list. I’m currently in Stockholm.

For the new year I’m planning to go catch up with the business partner who’s currently in Toronto for awhile, then I’d like to head to Cape Town for their summer period for a spot of kiteboarding and join a few fellow digital nomads.

Asia is top on my list for next year though.

Sounds great! We’re heading back to Asia next year… Beijing for a little while and then we’ll make our way down to Chiang Mai. Digital nomad heaven!

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We stay fairly active on social media but the majority of our main clients come from referrals/word of mouth so we let them come to us, using any slow periods to relax and enjoy the country around us.

In addition to that I keep updated with the latest startup news and follow/engage with interesting startups online, more so because i’m interested in what they’re working on, but that has also generated long term clients and some great friends.

How you deal with personal taxes since you are abroad almost half of the year ?

Simple as Milk is still registered as a UK Limited company so we still have to deal with the whole UK tax process, we have an accountant in the UK that handles the majority of that for us though, handling signatures digitally with our accountant.

I have learnt that having no fixed office means I can now claim for food/coffee as a taxable expense as a form of paying for a internet space to work from. something I couldn’t do before with a fixed office, Unfortunately AirBnb’s are not workable as a business expense regardless of if I work from them.

Have you experienced / stayed in any kind of coworking/coliving/coworkation space on your travels?

Any tips for really interesting places in Europe that allow you to work and live in the same spot for some time?

I haven’t yet, its on my list, in fact there is one here in Gamla Stan, Stockholm I’ve been meaning to checkout. So far predominantly stayed in AirBnbs. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Co-Working spaces, including some really awesome ones in Hamburg and Oslo.

Afraid I don’t have many tips on that front, but since most co-working spaces are situated in the main centre of the city prices are likely to be high, I’ve found staying a little way out and commuting 15-25 minutes in to work from a co-working space to work really well.

Do let me know if you find any, as I’d love to come visit them for a week or two.

Hi James! How do you see the nomad movement evolve in terms of the type of people doing this? I know years ago it was the 4 hour work week kind of people.

It seems people like you are a lot different in that you’re creative, make beautiful work and have a lot of taste in everything you do.

Where do you see this going? Will it stay a niche or are we seeing it go mainstream any time soon?

I think nomad culture is slowly changing, it was very closely tied to backpacker culture and its slowly catching its own style. form over function, I see far less people with ugly backpacks and “travel” clothes instead opting for style and traveling/living like they would anyone else.

No one wants cargo trousers, a fleece with 500 pockets and travel shoes anymore.

Now that a nomadic life is becoming more possible with the mindset changes of employers that remote working can be beneficial and the overall change of many industries with professionals going freelance becoming a nomad is not only viable in many cases its the best/most obvious option.

I think the main issue with nomads is that they are all very connected to their industries but not connected together as a group, this forum along with the Slack chat channel is bringing thousands of nomads together something that has not happened before and its really going to start to make changes, making the nomadic life style become far more mainstream. One I welcome.

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Hey James - given what you’ve learned over the past year, what’s one thing you would do differently if you were just starting out as a nomad today?

Nice. Do you see a space here for luxury brands targeted towards nomads as a demographic?

I was thinking there’s this fun irony where because many nomads live in relatively low-cost countries, they actually save a lot of money which becomes disposable income. That’s money the new generation of nomads might want to spend on high quality stuff. Most of us are already on iPhones, MacBooks etc, which are luxury products.

Are there any brands doing this yet? Premium stuff for nomads?

The one thing I would do differently is take less stuff, my backpack weighs half of what it did when I first started traveling. I’ve found that half of the stuff I originally took with me I never used. I spent ages researching the best x for travel or top gadgets for travel. Once out on the road you soon learn that you’ve wasted a ton of money and they’re just dragging you down (In the literal sense, my bag was so heavy it hurt my back).

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Definitely agree. I cut my load down significantly as well and couldn’t be happier about it.

What about from a business perspective? Any major lessons learned that you didn’t expect, or obstacles you had to overcome that other nomads should be aware of?

I think there’s a huge market for luxury brands in the digital nomad space, we’ve a huge amount of disposable income, an inability to buy large qualities of anything. What we do buy we choose carefully and have no problem spending high amounts on something when we only have 20-30 items to our name.

I’ve yet to find a decent pair of trainers that look good and last more than 6 months before they fall apart. Given the consumerist lifestyle of the general public people own more than 1 pair of shoes and more than 3 T-shirts, the quality and durability of these items is not for someone that uses the items every day, they just don’t last and I would welcome some serious innovation in this space.

Apple is the perfect example without meaning to be, very high quality products, expensive but last.

We choose carefully but when we choose price is not the defining factor, but I’ve not had much luck finding premium stuff for nomads, your standard designer or premium stuff is still not designed to be worn/used every day and falls apart as quick as cheap items.

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Hey James, thanks for doing this AMA and sharing your site. Enjoyed the photography articles and especially the Sony A7 review, I’m suitably gear-poisoned now.

What’s wrong with buying a new pair of shoes every time a pair wears out, though? Wouldn’t you get sick of wearing the exact same clothing for years?

If you’re familiar with the MFA(MaleFashionAdvice) community on Reddit, they recommend particular styles of boots that wear well, for example brands like Red Wing, Alden. Would these be appropriate for a traveller, or are you solely looking for trainers that last longer?