The kiwi suitcase entrepreneur

By Sadie Whitelocks

Natalie Sisson identifies as a new breed of worker, the 'digital nomad', someone who works exclusively online and is not fixed to one location. Photo / Thinkstock
Natalie Sisson identifies as a new breed of worker, the 'digital nomad', someone who works exclusively online and is not fixed to one location. Photo / Thinkstock

Sick of working 9 to 5 one woman has told how she quit her job four years ago, decided to travel the world and has been living out of a suitcase ever since.

New Zealand native Natalie Sisson, 36, says that one of the first questions she gets asked is: 'How do you make a living?' But after forging a successful online business, writing a book and turning her attention to motivational speaking she rakes in an ample six-figure salary.

The pretty brunette, a former marketing executive and body builder, told Yahoo.com: 'People think that I'm either crazy, a little bit strange or they think it sounds fantastic. I like to think of myself as a citizen of the world. Wherever I place my suitcase, that's kind of my home.'

Ms Sisson does not have a permanent residence, has bank accounts in four countries, 17 SIM cards for her mobile phone and calls herself The Suitcase Entrepreneur, also the title of her blog and book.

She identifies as a new breed of worker, the 'digital nomad,' someone who works exclusively online and is not fixed to one location.

To date, she's traveled to 66 countries - visiting 15 in 2013 alone - with her longest stay in Berlin for two months. She plans to tick off ten more destinations - including Japan, Sweden and Spain - this year.

On the money front, she says she has about eight different revenue streams and spends anything from 20 hours to 60 hours a week working.

'My blog brings in some form of advertising and affiliate marketing. I have digital products and programs for sale. I do coaching, and it's all online through Skype,' she revealed.

Ms Sisson estimates she saves up to $2,000 a month because she doesn't have typical living expenses. She lives in hotels, rents apartments and sometimes stays with good friends which keeps living costs more affordable.

'A lot of people think travel is really expensive but when you don't have all those extra payments like mortgages etc. you can stay in places quite cheap,' she explained.

Back in 2008, the entrepreneur found herself frustrated with her corporate career in London, despite a recent promotion and pay rise. She had also just invested in property.
But determined to leave the rat race, she booked a flight to Vancouver, Canada, to compete in the Ultimate Frisbee world championships.

Once there, she attended a business networking event in the city and met a like-minded entrepreneur and the pair founded charity app called FundRazr.

Ms Sisson soon became fascinated by the tech industry, especially how few women were in the field.

'I started a blog to talk about my experience and used it as a way to interview some of these women in technology,' she says.

'I realized probably about six months in that it was becoming more of a passion than the business that we had built.'

After 18 months, Ms Sisson turned her attention to building an online business that would help others escape the confines of an office and work remotely and so the Suitcase Entrepreneur was born.

While she says she 'really enjoys the constant change' traveling brings, it also has its downsides.

For instance, it can often be difficult to forge long-lasting, meaningful relationships with people. Structuring the days can also pose a challenge.

As a result, she plans to slow things down in the future spending longer periods of time in each place.

'Now that I'm wanting to settle a little more and spend more time in each place, I would definitely love to find somebody who's up for an adventure and for moving around as well,' she says.

Ms Sisson hopes more people are able to live her way in the future.

'I would love businesses to get over the fact that you don't need to be present to be adding value. At any time you can reach out to people and connect.'

A recent survey by the job site oDesk of more than 800 businesses found that 90per cent of people believe technology is making it easier to do their jobs from anywhere.

More than half the respondents said it also boosted their income.

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