What is the difference between being a remote employee vs remote entrepreneur? Victoria Puzach has us covered; she has done a bunch of both, and in our chat she shares a ton of tips and advice about being a remote employee vs remote entrepreneur, the cost of a travel lifestyle and starting a remote business, traveling with a less privileged passport, and managing relationships and community as a digital nomad.
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Meet Victoria Puzach!
Born and raised in a Russian exclave, Victoria Puzach traveled abroad for the first time when she was six and she basically never stopped. She has visited 56 countries, lived in 16 of them, and has been enjoying a fully location-independent lifestyle while working remotely for the past three years.
With a professional background in EdTech and Events Organization, she worked as a remote employee for Mindvalley – a company that serves 12 million students. In 2020, Victoria quit her job to become a remote entrepreneur, and now she creates virtual events and programs that tackle the challenges of remote workers, freelancers, and entrepreneurs who want to take advantage of the changing global landscape, have more freedom, exploration, focus, and deep connections in their lives. As such she is the founder of Work Travel Summit, InFocus, and co-founder of CoLife Homes.
Watch our chat here as we delve into her remote work experience, how she financially planned for her transition to being a remote entrepreneur, what her lifestyle is like, what it’s like to travel full-time on a Russian passport, and more!
Click here to watch the video (and please mash the like button and/or leave a comment when you do!), or hit play below.
Being a Remote Employee
In Victoria’s tenure at Mindvalley, she worked out of their Malaysia office as an expat, before becoming a fully remote employee. Here’s a little more about her work experience:
- She has been a remote employee, freelancer, and entrepreneur, working for large and small companies alike.
- Her degrees in International Relations and Applied Informatics are perfect for her multi-passionate and generalist personality.
- Mindvalley was remote work friendly and that’s how she got her travel legs.
- But Victoria never enjoyed returning to her home in Kuala Lumpur; she wanted to reinvent what “home” meant to her.
- So she asked her boss to become a fully remote team manager, and spent the next two years fully remote.
Transitioning to Remote Entrepreneur
Victoria’s intuition had long been egging her on to work for herself, and after COVID hit, she decided to follow her dream. Lucky for her, she was able to continue on with Mindvalley in a consultant role while she figured out what to do. Here’s what we discussed about this transition period:
- How Victoria planned financially for the leap into remote entrepreneurship, and her advice for others considering a similar transition.
- How she planned for and estimated the costs of starting a remote business.
- Victoria founded the Work Travel Summit, which was a jumping off point for developing programs for remote freelancers and remote entrepreneurs.
- If you have no travel experience AND you want to start a remote business, think twice! Don’t jump into both simultaneously.
Differences Between Remote Employee vs Remote Entrepreneur
With experience on both sides of the fence, I asked Victoria to enlighten me and our viewers/listeners. Here’s what she said:
- The biggest difference when you are a remote entrepreneur is freedom! But it comes with a caveat.
- There’s more pressure as an entrepreneur to make things work without a stable paycheque.
- As a remote employee, Victoria couldn’t make her hours as freely (eg: depending on her time zone, she might have to wake up at 5am for a work call).
- But….as an employee you can leave work at work, have weekends off, etc.
- As an entrepreneur you deal with all aspects of the business regardless of whether or not you know how to do it!
- How she dealt with some of the tasks of entrepreneurship that took her by surprise, like administrative stuff, accounts payable and receivable, budgeting, contracts.
- Luckily, her experience as an employee helped her entrepreneurial skills, like team management and hiring.
The Full-Time Travel Lifestyle
I love chatting with full-time travelers, because the lifestyle can be so different for everybody. For example, with my overall theme of getting free accommodation around the world, I not only saved money but that kind of travel informed what my community and travel lifestyle looked like. We cover things like:
- How to estimate the cost of living and not get bamboozled by reality costing more than the estimate.
- How traveling with her partner helps reduce per-person travel lifestyle costs.
- How having the moral support of a partner to make life/career changes makes the transition easier.
Digital Nomad Relationships
Speaking of moral support, I dug in with Victoria about her relationship as well dating advice for long-term travelers and digital nomads, since dating and finding compatible love as a digital nomad can be tricky. We discuss:
- How she met her partner Vlad a few times in a few different countries before going on their first date in Estonia.
- The irony of the digital nomad lifestyle and how it accelerates romance by virtue of logistics.
- So basically she and Vlad moved in together for their second date!
- How traveling with somebody helps you figure out if they’re the right (or wrong!) partner for you.
- The importance of taking time apart (eg: they were traveling apart for a month at the time of the interview).
- Solo Sundays! Their ritual for ensuring they both have personal time.
- If you’re looking for a partner, attend events in your interest category.
- Ask those uncomfortable but straight-forward questions right away! You only have a short time to figure out if you want to continue to travel together.
- Virtual networking, remote work retreats, and co-living are all ways to meet new friends and partners.
- Victoria’s co-living experiences, and how you can create your own themed co-living experience and create a cohesive experience with new people.
Traveling Full-Time With a Russian Passport
There is a narrative about digital nomads and lifestyle travelers that they are all from western countries with privileged passports. But this is just not the case, and in fact these days, remote workers are from all corners of the globe.
See also: My discussion about Digital Nomad Visas and Global Citizenship with Olumide Gbenro, and my chat with Hannah Dixon about Global Wage Equity for Virtual Assistants.
So I asked Victoria what it’s like to travel as a digital nomad with a Russian passport. Here’s what she said:
- It’s far from the worst passport to travel with (eg: most of SE Asia and Latin America is available to her without needing visas).
- But, she has always struggled with visas; it eventually becomes normal after traveling long enough.
- Having grown up in an exclave of Russia, Victoria needed a visa to even travel to other parts of Russia (since it involves going through parts of Europe).
- The silver lining is having lots of visa stickers in your passport!
- How she managed during the pandemic, not being able to return to Russia.
- The introduction of Digital Nomad Visas and how that will help people with less privileged passports.
- If you need to apply for a visa, a lot of the time you need to do it from your home country.
- This requires planning ahead to get a fresh passport and apply for multiple visas at a time.
- She’s applying for residency in Mexico so she can have the option to apply for other visas whilst in Mexico and not just Russia.
- She always travels with visa photos plus copies of documents.
- We both share some document and passport carrying tips.
Work Travel Summit
I had the pleasure of being a host for Day Two of the Work Travel Summit, which was a jam-packed three-day event that Victoria created. Her experience at Mindvalley served her well, because I would never have known it was her first stab at entrepreneurship; the event was incredibly well done with a very capable team. Here’s what she said about Work Travel Summit, and what has come of it:
- Work Travel Summit was for remote workers, digital entrepreneurs, and people interested in the remote lifestyle to share ideas on the current state and future of remote work.
- With the shift in global landscape we can create and shape our futures in new ways.
- Ultimately the summit was a way to figure out how the pandemic has changed how we live, work, and travel.
- Productivity was a hot topic at the summit, and as a remote entrepreneur herself, Victoria struggles with it. This led her to her next project, which is a monthly mastermind-style program for entrepreneurs and freelancers to work together to achieve various goals with accountability.
- The missing element to many online summits is followup and long-term collaboration; and how she’s working to address that.
Remember, this is just a summary of things that Victoria and I discussed in our live chat! Click here to watch it, and leave a comment about your current working situation and what you’re shooting for.