Working from home has never been easier or more flexible. In fact, it is now possible to work anywhere in the world, as long as the internet connection is stable. The governments of Barbados and Bermuda made this perfectly clear when they invited UK employees over to live and work in their respective territories for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
And if you can work remotely from across the Atlantic ocean, then what about in the back of a motorhome? To go one step further, what if you could run an entire business out of a motorhome? Would such an undertaking be realistic?
Motorhome-based businesses: a very contemporary phenomenon
There is estimated to be around 750,000 motorhome-based businesses operating in the United States alone. And to anyone who has spent even a brief stint during lockdown working remotely on a home computer, it should be obvious by now that, if you can accomplish a day’s work on a laptop, then you can work out the back of a motorhome.
But regardless, motorhome businesses aren’t just limited to remote workers on laptops. Increasingly, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen more customer service jobs — including even insurance and customer-complaint departments — hook up to the intranet. Meaning it is now much more common and acceptable for them to be done remotely when previously this was taboo. E-shops are also increasingly common, as there is no need for inventory space or physical facilities, otherwise known as the costly and limiting features of real-world stores.
Finally, there are the more creative roles that can be performed pretty much anywhere, such as copywriting, photography, the handcrafting of handmade goods, pre-recorded musical performance roles, and more. The general rule is: if you can do it in a bedroom-turned-office, you can do it in a motorhome.
Advantages of motorhome-based businesses
There’s no doubt about it that business-based motorhomes carry a certain charm to them that may give you an edge over your competitors. Examples include mobile tattoo parlours, pet grooming parlours, mobile book stores, mobile cupcake factories and — especially popular during the lockdown — even mobile pubs that could park right on your driveway.
The ability to travel also frees up more territory to expand your custom (or move away from excess competition). You can also “chase” fairs, plug into their hookups, and begin appealing to the crowds they naturally draw.
A motorhome also offers a cheap, practical way to launch entrepreneurial dreams in a way that was not possible before the advent of reliable, broadband connections. Repairs and redesigns are also predictably cheaper as they would be for bricks and mortar offices. You might also be able to register your vehicle as a commercial one, and therefore claim back some of the VAT on the purchase of it.
Finally, less of a business-related point and more of a mental health/happiness one, a portable business place allows the owner to travel to beautiful locations, and see more of the world.
Disadvantages of motorhome-based businesses
Although the cost of fuel and sporadic campground fees aren’t nearly as expensive as having an actual business HQ, they will add up. There’s also the chance that, in order to properly run a business (dependent of course on what it is), you will need a motorhome on the larger side. Which will not only cost more to buy and run but will cost more in toll fees for campgrounds and on toll bridges and motorways, etc.
There is also the sacrifice that comes with living in cramped quarters amongst business paraphernalia. It may be a challenge to make things presentable, which could be very important if customers are to enter the motorhome from time to time.
Entrepreneurs going down this route will also need to consider a relative degree of loneliness or a sense of limitation that is not the case with traditional bricks and mortar jobs. There are downsides to everything, trade-offs no matter where it is one works, motorhome or not.
Finally, you may need a helping hand in the form of family or friends who are “grounded” at a fixed address at home in order to process orders and dispatch products — to complete the process if you are selling physical products. But you will still be able to do most of the operational running from the motorhome.
What to keep in mind
Perhaps the most important thing to consider is a steady internet connection. For that, you will need to invest in a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot device. However a lot of them currently aren’t designed for constant use — but we expect that will change rapidly as remote working becomes more of the norm, rather than the exception.
You will also need to bear in mind any licensing, insurance and other regulatory considerations before heading out on the road. As travelling from place to place (and particularly in the States, or the Home Nations of the UK) will often remove you from certain legal zones. A quick example is, a plumber or an electrician may have to abide by minor differences in local legislation as they move from nation to nation or state to state. Failing to appreciate these changes may put you into conflict with the law.
It is also important to remember that different motorhome campsites will have different rules, often subject to the mercy of the owners. They won’t necessarily be comfortable with customers visiting their campsite to muse at your business doings or to window-shop. So make sure to consult with them first.
It has been said that a certain character is required to run a business, whether that business is out the back of a motorhome or not. The people who succeed tend to have a natural inclination that allows them to always push forward, be innovative, and make opportunities out of obstacles.
If you are business-minded, then it shouldn’t be any different if you run one out the back of a motorhome or not.
Neil Wright writes for We Buy Any Motorcaravan.