Interview: Kevin Martin

Kevin Martin helps students apply to American universities and he is self-employed and founder of his company: www.texadmissions.com. He is an expert in helping students navigate the transition from high school to college and edit and revise their applications because undergraduate admission to American univKevin Martinersities is a complex process.
You can see more about him in his blog, Youtube or Linkedin.

1. How did you started working remotely? How did you do the switch?

Since 2010, my number one priority was to travel the world full-time. I received my Bachelor’s degree in 2011 and spent a few years working in the Office of Admissions for the University of Texas at Austin. I saved money, became a SCUBA Divemaster and received my English teaching certificate. I published a portion of my undergraduate research, took classes at a local college, and sat for the Graduate school exam to leave open the option for further study.
I transitioned abroad in 2014 teaching English in rural Malaysia through the Fulbright program. Starting in 2015, I began my open-ended, independent journey around the world.
I Googled “how to start my own business” and, drawing on my previous professional experience, I launched Tex Admissions while in Guatemala City. I find meaning and purpose mentoring students and helping families. I am living my dream.

2.Which are the main advantages that you find that remote work has?

I am my own boss. Any work I do goes towards building, expanding, and maintaining my business. I view entrepreneurship as a form of creativity. Working remotely allows me to adjust my costs. Especially in the early months of starting my business, having flexible costs allows me to increase my “runway” and make my capital go further. I can live more inexpensively traveling the world than if I lived in the United States full-time. My lifestyle frees up my time to do what I really enjoy: socializing, reading, and writing.

3. Do you think you have disadvantages or that you’re missing something by working remotely?

One thing I miss about working in college admissions is the professional network. I enjoyed working with my colleagues at other universities and contributing to professional organizations. I only interact with my clients by e-mail, so I develop these strong relationships but I never meet my students or families in person. If I was located in one place, I could expand my business significantly. Increasing profits and the responsibilities that would entail, however, doesn’t appeal to me. I would rather be flexible than tied down to one location. I have solved a lot of these problems through technology. My presence as a lead moderator on Reddit’s “Applying to College,” Youtube Channel, and guest publications reaches more students than when I was conventionally employed by UT and visiting high schools. I am crafting what I call “unconventional professional development.” My clients also don’t mind working through e-mail.

4. From which cities or countries have you worked from since you have become remote? Which has been your favourite one?

I travel more like a backpacker than a digital nomad or ex-pat. In 2016, for example, I visited 37 countries. The longest I stayed was in Tofo Beach, Mozambique for one month. I lived in a hut with hot water, electricity, a giant living space, maid service, high speed internet, and a two minute walk to a private beach for 75 USD a month. If I were to stay in one place, a few come to mind: San Cristobal, Mexico; Oaxaca City, Mexico; El Cuco, El Salvador; Kiev, Ukraine; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lisbon, Portugal; Cape Town, South Africa; Berlin, Germany; Penang, Malaysia.

5. From which type of place do you prefer to work from? Coworking spaces, coffee shops or others?

Because I move so frequently, I must work from anywhere at any time: airports, bus stations, border crossings, without electricity, etc. I typically stay in hostels, but since most people leave during the day on trips, I have common spaces to myself. By listening to music, I can create a productive space anywhere. Work spaces, for me, are more a state of mind rather than a physical location.

6. Which places would you like to travel to while working remotely or working from?

This year, I would like to check out Georgia, Malta, and the Dominican Republic. I have friends all over the world. Spending time with them is more important than the places I visit.

7 y 8.Which tools do you use to work remotely? How do you manage your business and taxes as a remote working professional?

I started using Intuit TurboTax and their small business product. It works great and helps me track expenses, profits, and pay my quarterly taxes. I like being in control of my accounting. Over the past two years, I had to solve a few problems: registering as an LLC, filing a trademark, setting up a business PayPal account, taking advantage of various business credit cards (I prefer Chase products), the Charles Schwab free ATM withdrawals debit card, and managing my self-employed 401K. I have global health insurance through WorldMed. I use Avast Passwords to keep everything secure across my devices and Private Internet Access VPN to browse securely. I am currently writing a book, so I am teaching myself how to self-publish. I use the Microsoft Office Suite to work with clients and everything is backed up using OneDrive. This was a savior since, the day before I left for Barbados this year, my computer suddenly died and I had to buy a new one at the midnight hour.

9. What advice would you give to people looking to work remotely and companies doing the remote switch?

For anyone considering making the transition from salaried to self-employment, it helps to have a long-term plan. The more money that you save, contacts you make, and skills you develop, the more versatile you can be. It can pay off to delay gratification.

I went all in: traveling the world while starting my business. I noted the reasons people told me I would fail. I’ve made and paid for a lot of mistakes along the way. Some of those people were right. I didn’t just want to start my own company. I wanted to do it on my terms aligned with my lifestyle. Stubbornness can be both an asset and a liability. I spent years building my foundation so, when the time came, I was ready make the leap. I spent hundreds of hours building my business before making my first dollar. Now, that investment is paying off. I don’t necessarily recommend my path unless you have a very high tolerance for risk and uncertainty.

Some people take a less risky approach by creating their own company while at home or working remotely for a company before giving up the security that comes with reliable employment. They ease into it. They stay put in one location for a while or mix salaried employment with freelancing. There is no template or “right” way to go about adopting a new lifestyle.

It is important to assess your risk tolerance, work habits, and values before transitioning to a new lifestyle. Most importantly, don’t let “no” people discourage you. There is always a reason not to do something. Listen to them, but find your “yes.” Act decisively.

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