It might seem a bit radical.
I decided to move my entire book design business overseas without telling my clients.
That was the best approach, I decided. Let them think I’m still in Michigan, not here in Sarajevo. They’ll never even know.
But the point was not to be deceptive.
I was making a permanent move to Europe. I wanted to spend the rest of my life here in Sarajevo, near the woman I loved. By the time I stepped off the airplane, my house in Michigan was ready to go on sale. This was it.
Again, my point was not to be deceptive. I just didn’t want anyone to worry.
Click here to download my free PDF on “The 12 Tools and Hacks I Use to Run My Business From Overseas.”
I had a complete plan. I would tell all my clients I was working in Sarajevo . . . but wait until nine months had passed. If I waited for nine months, I would have completed many projects.
If all the work had been completed perfectly, just like before, everything should be fine. I thought. Then no one could worry about what might happen when they could see that everything had gone fine for nearly an entire year.
Worry is about what might happen. If everything works perfectly, no worries. Business as usual.
Tools of the Trade
To make things easy, 99% of my communications with clients were already by email. Maybe I’d speak with a client on the phone once a year, but that was about it.
All of the projects I worked on were received and delivered over the Internet. And I had other systems in place. Since we produce complete books, from initial manuscripts to print-ready files, my two editors in the United States worked with the authors and physical copies of manuscripts. I only saw the completed files, ready for layout.
But in addition to that, there were some special tools I needed to run a U.S.–based company effectively from overseas:
• A regular telephone number in the United States that would ring through to Sarajevo — complete with voice mail — that would also allow me to make phone calls to the United States. People will call me here and not even realize I’m in a different country.
• A special postal address in the United States that would receive my mail, scan it to PDF files, and automatically deposit checks into my business checking account. Every time I receive a piece of mail in America, I’m notified by email, and can download the document the next day.
• A regular business checking account, which allowed me to write checks online and pay my editors, illustrators, and other helpers — all at no charge. Not even the cost of a postage stamp.
I’ve compiled a complete guide to The 12 Tools and Hacks I Use to Run My Business From Overseas. Just click here to download the PDF.
Besides these tools, I made it a point to send emails only after 3:00 PM local time. That corresponded to 9:00 AM Eastern Time in the United States. That way, because of the time zone differences, it didn’t look like I was working at 2:00 or 3:00 AM in the morning.
Telling the Tale
Nine months passed quickly. I had completed zillions of projects. I got paid like clockwork. My checks were automatically deposited. Everything worked perfectly, just as it had in the United States. My cost of living was now much lower. And everyone was happy — except I was much happier, because I was living and working in the city of my dreams.
Finally, the big day came, when I told my clients.
I sent them a nice email, explaining everything in detail: How my systems worked. How everything worked flawlessly. And why I waited nine months to tell them — because I didn’t want anyone to worry. Because I wanted everyone to see there would be no problems at all.
I expected some people to be a bit surprised, and I’m sure they were.
But I couldn’t have predicted the emails that came in response to my message. My clients thought the entire move had been an amazing idea. They congratulated me on the move, with their sincere best wishes. And they said they had absolutely no idea I still wasn’t working in the United States.
There wasn’t a single hiccup, and people were actually happy for me.
Of course, I was scared when I first wrote to them. But as I said earlier, “Worry is about what might happen.” So you can be sure the email I sent was very carefully worded, professional, and reassuring.
In the end, nothing happened. My clients were happy for me and also amazed by the story.
That was five years ago, and I’ve been working for them ever since.
— D.R. Fideler