Las Palmas is one of Europe’s digital nomad hubs, and CoworkingC is arguably the city’s most popular coworking space for traveling entrepreneurs. This means that some interesting characters pass through our office. One of them was Max Keeling, who was working hard on a lifestyle business that might someday turn over seven figures. Let’s see what makes Max tick…
Can you tell something about yourself?
I’m from the UK originally, and qualified as a Chartered Accountant straight after university. I worked for various large companies in the UK before joining Barclays Investment Bank in Singapore in 2011. After five years in Asia, I decided to quit banking and start my own business, and joined the London Real Accelerator (LRA) last September.
LRA prides itself on being ‘the online business course with the highest success rate’. It helped me find a business model, build the actual website, create digital products, and grow my social media presence. I did all this while being in Asia and Australia, which meant I had to be awake and pumped up for coaching calls at 2-5 AM local time!
What activities allow you to work from anywhere?
The LRA course led me to my setting up The Investing Coach. Through a blog, infoproducts, and coaching, I want to help people take control of their personal finances, be confident with their money, and be prepared for retirement.
Many digital nomads bootstrap their business while traveling, but I have ambitions of growing the business to replace or surpass my previous income, whilst at the same time allowing me to travel without the constraints of a tight budget. It took me a few weeks to set up this website and my wife Laura, who has a background in marketing, is helping me a lot. It’s a shared business really, but I’m the one at the front-end.
The beginning was like passing through the desert: hardly anybody follows you, you have the feeling you’re talking to no-one. We’re still in the early stages, but we’re gaining traction and already we have had some big wins.
6 months after being on the LRA I’m back on the course but as a team leader, which means I help new LRA students set up their own digital businesses.
Why and when did you start life as a digital nomad?
Laura and I wanted more freedom to travel and also to spend time in our apartment in Ibiza. That was the main motivation to become a nomad. As for the ‘digital’, I decided to build an online business so I could really scale and help as many people as possible.
We began our adventure last year with one month in Australia. Then we went to Ibiza for a month, the UK for a month, and we were on Gran Canaria in February and March this year.
How do you stay productive while traveling?
In my finance jobs I got used to working hard. The idea was to take this work ethic and apply it to my own business. I’m really motivated to make this a success, and I think that is the key to high productivity.
We’re also experimenting with the best times of day to work, whether it’s the morning, the afternoon or in the evening. Our work weeks are generally five days, but our ‘weekends’ are usually in the middle of the week, say Tuesday and Thursday. And if we notice that we’re stuck, we take half a day off and go to the beach or to the mountains.
Another habit I created is making to-do lists. It helps me sleep easier when I get my tasks out of my head and onto an old-school notepad. Apart from daily goals, I like to set bigger weekly goals; for example, editing 42 videos before Sunday.
Having booked and paid every flight and accommodation for the next 11 months, is a great motivator too. We now need to make money if we want to keep living this lifestyle.
What was your experience in Las Palmas?
We knew we wanted to be someplace warm for the winter. The initial idea was to go to South America, where we would brush up on our Spanish. Laura was still a bit hesitant about South America when Gran Canaria popped up on the digital nomad forums. We did some more research and liked the fact that it was relatively close to the UK and in the same timezone.
We decided to give it a go and booked our Airbnb apartment 5 months in advance. We really liked the community at CoworkingC, and Las Palmas itself was convenient and easy. It’s a good-sized city that is accommodating for Spanish learners and has lots of friendly cafes.
We also liked to get out of the city from time to time. We loved the interior of the island with its mountains and forests and dams and villages. It’s great for driving around and even better for hiking.
What are your future plans?
We’re in the fortunate position that we can take 2 years out, which should give us enough time to build the business.
I don’t mind working 50-60 hours a week, since I’m very passionate about what I’m doing, but I don’t want to do that forever. I’d like to get to a point where we can work on it part-time or even take a few months off for traveling. My mentor, Brian Rose, thinks we can turn this into a multi-million pound business.
As for our location, we’d like to stay longer periods in certain places. We really love Ibiza; that’s why we bought a property on the island. I can see us spend the summers there, then live a few months in Singapore where I have a lot of friends, and then a few months a year in Australia while it’s winter time in Europe. We could add a fourth destination to that – a different one each year.