Location-independent businesses are rarer than online seminar hucksters would have you believe

I see a lot of unlikely claims by guys online about location independence, independent income, etc…. they’re improbable, not impossible, but I worry about the low-information guys who are attracted to “location independence” but who don’t have the unique, non-commodity skills to get there.

The commodity / non-commodity concept comes from economics: in a perfectly competitive market, commodities move to the price of marginal production and distribution cost. Think of something like steel: a given grade of steel is a given grade of steel and is completely undifferentiated; if producer A can make steel $1 cheaper than producer B, the market will move towards producer A until producer A’s capacity is exhausted. In many fields workers are a lot like this. If you are working fast food, retail, etc., you are competing with a vast pool of local and sometimes global labor, and you are interchangeable with thousands, sometimes millions, of other people. You will likely not be able to command above-average wages without differentiated skills.

If you don’t have the attention and cognitive skills to read the above paragraph, or if you find it boring, you are not going to make it as a location-independent worker.

In most cases, people have to work for many years to develop differentiated skills, as well as the industry connections needed to deploy those skills effectively. Programming is a common example of this, but most programmers take many years to develop their skills, and many people lack the IQ necessary to be a programmer (that is why so many programmers with three years of industry experience and a CS degree make six figures… most people literally cannot do the work). There are many other examples. To become a doctor takes four years of college, then four years of medical school, then three years of residency. At the end you are a highly differentiated worker, but you are not location independent (mostly).

There are many other kinds of differentiated skills, but most of the guys pitching online seminars don’t have those skills and haven’t demonstrated those skills, though they often claim to have them. Something about the online world encourages a set of magical beliefs that you can, without real skills, learn how to make large amounts of money. Pretty f**kin unlikely.

So how does most of the world really work? Unless you are founding a tech startup or working for one of the big tech companies, it is very hard to make very large amounts of money right out of the gate (say, ages 22 – 30). Even tech founders and workers see much larger financial gains 10+ years in. Most people spend their early career building skills and building connections. Many people focus, wrongly, only one of those things. If you build skills without connections, you may have lots of skills, but you don’t have a way to leverage them. A couple years ago I wrote, Company loyalty is dead. Switch jobs every 18 months to two years [Career]. If you don’t build connections you will have a harder time switching jobs and getting the pay bumps from job switches.

To get 50%+ pay increases, you basically have to switch jobs. There is something in human psychology called “anchoring.” Once an “anchor” is set as a reference point, it’s very hard to re-set it. If your job at an organization is paying you $45,000, you are unlikely to get above $50,000 even if you are generating $100,000 of value for the organization. If you switch jobs you may be able to go up to $75,000 or more at the new organization. Then it’s possible, in two years, to go BACK to the old org, show them your $75,000, and negotiate for $90,000. Or $110,000. Six figures is another psychological barrier.

Switching jobs effectively usually requires connections, however, as well as a portfolio, if possible. So if you have skills but no connections, you retard your ability to get the new gig. If you develop connections without having skills, you may try to get jobs but then not be able to do them. Sometimes this works, as most of us have found worthless people in high-level jobs, but it is best if you have both. It’s like dating, you might be able to find the rare hot chick who is into a typical fat video gamer with limited ambition… it’s just going to be super rare to find her, and if you want success with women you’re better off doing the typical things, developing yourself, lifting, improving your social life, chatting up chicks, etc.

Markets are very efficient. Not perfectly efficient, but very efficient. So if you try to do “location independent business” without real skills, you are running into efficient markets without sufficient specialization, which is a recipe for stagnation. There are arbitrage opportunities out there… Someone who speaks flawless Mandarin and English might be able to exploit some. A random guy who is hearing about THE DREAM of getting out of the corporate grind… probably can’t.

The guys who make it with location independence have often built up non-commodity knowledge and execution ability. So many claims online are very implausible without being utterly impossible, and the guys who want to believe, want to believe so bad that they’re willing to blind themselves to reality.

Lots of guys reap most of their income gains between ages 35 and 55. By 35, information and reputation advantages have compounded sufficient to allow smart guys who are good workers to acquire the in-depth knowledge necessary to command high salaries. Most guys have also gained sufficient reputation in their industry to be known as a good worker. Very few unknown quantities get hired for mid- or high-level jobs. Too risky. You have to prove yourself first. Guys making good money usually have good skills, they’ve proven themselves, and they have good reputations. All things that are hard to do via online, location-independent businesses.

Being a guy is a relentless process of proving yourself. When two guys get together, they size each other up… is this other guy for real? Or is he full of shit? One problem with online gurus is that you can’t see them solve problems in real time. When you can do that… you really learn about a man. Whether he is effective or not. It is possible to seem effective without being effective… I have had to fire people like that before.

With chicks, you are seeing if they are for real… do they actually want sex… do they look the way they seem to online… etc. Often they are not for real.

I think there are more guys trying to sell “Location independent” seminars than there are guys who are in location independent businesses.

A lot of what you encounter online is really marketing and dreams, not reality. I think that reality-based persons are not spending that much time online, which is so often a waste of time (for me as well). There are a lot of attractive but unlikely claims being made online, and you are welcome to believe them if you want, but you are going to suffer if you believe the stories a lot of guys are selling.

To reiterate, you need to BUILD SKILLS and preferably industry knowledge and industry connections too. Most people do NONE of those things and as a consequence their careers suck. Most people eat too much sugar, get too little exercise, and watch too much TV, and therefore their bodies and their lives suck.

Most guys are going to make more money in conventional businesses and government than they are going to make in the wilds of the Internet… this is also why most smart guys are NOT going to come out as game experts or Red Pill guys. That’s a good way to lose your footing in the corporate and government worlds. That’s a good way to retard your earnings, maybe permanently. Once you are identified without ideologies too far outside the Overton Window, you may be permanently f**ked from earning the largest amounts of money. I would like to change the Overton Window, but the very first thing a game guy needs to do is recognize reality (or have a force of determination so strong that he creates his own reality… a lot of the best players seem to believe their own hype, which leads to success with chicks).

It’s totally true that you may be the exception who makes more money online than you will in most corporate jobs. But if you don’t have exceptional reasons to think you’re the exception, you’re probably the rule, and your career is going to reflect that. This isn’t as sexy a post as EARN SIX FIGURES ONLINE, LET ME SHOW YOU HOW, so the guys who really need it probably aren’t going to find it, but I want a single place to point the bullshit generators to when it’s time. I want readers to know also that I never said having an online, location-independent business is impossible (it’s not). Trying to build one without unique skills and strong connections is just very very unlikely and is contrary to how most business really works. I get the impression that most guys pitching one-man businesses either lack business experience OR have it, know what they’re pitching is bullshit, and pitch it anyway to separate the unwary or hopeful guy from his cash.

Author: The Red Quest

How can we live and be in society?

20 thoughts on “Location-independent businesses are rarer than online seminar hucksters would have you believe”

  1. I do a lot of travel for work but I’m still “location dependent”. I’ve come across many types of people in my travels, and very few of them could be considered “location independent”. Engineering in foreign countries easily requires additional licensing, bureaucracy, shipping/customs for equipment, and a bunch of middle men to dull out any edge you have.

    I have seen lots of traveling yoga teachers though, who make enough to support themselves (in SE Asia, catering to an expat/tourist market in places with low cost-of-living), but they certainly don’t make enough to support a family/retirement funds.

    And thanks to all the hucksters, there’s plenty of shitty amazon stores for chinese bullshit products. I think lots of people have made at least a side income doing this, but don’t know how location independent they are, or how long this business model is sustainable.

    Sugar babies probably have some of the most location-independent(ish) capability if they know how to properly seduce rich men.


    1. >>Sugar babies probably have some of the most location-independent(ish) capability if they know how to properly seduce rich men.

      Even doing this well is harder than it looks, from what I can tell. https://theredquest.wordpress.com/2019/06/03/oh-i-was-wrong-about-the-tinder-thing-it-is-that-bad/

      I think a lot of people just don’t understand fundamentals of the labor market, economics, and value. This makes them easy prey.

      More and more I feel like I’m wasting time writing about this stuff online, though… 99% of the guys out there can’t be helped.


      1. A ton of the bios I’ve seen on Tinder are shit, especially the sugar-baby wannabes that straight up ask for handouts. It makes me wonder if it is actually that hard, or if those girls are just clueless (and stay clueless because they get some mediocre success with it).

        I think you’re absolutely right about economic ignorance.

        Sure, 99% can’t be helped, but I don’t think you’re writing for those schmucks.


    2. >>Sure, 99% can’t be helped, but I don’t think you’re writing for those schmucks.

      No, but seeing the amount of pure idiocy I do is discouraging. On the other hand I have been doing private Twitter or email chats with about 10 – 12 guys, so that’s been cool. The book is probably the main real contribution I have to make.


    1. It’s not a complete, total fantasy… guys with the skills, knowledge, experience, and network can make it work. But this whole, “you’re an undifferentiated person with no real skills, and you can make six figures by copying other people” thing… that’s a fantasy. Now I have a post to point to when I find that fantasy expressed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole adult life. It’s true that forums and ebooks about online businesses are completely about selling the dream to dreamers.

    I’ve offered to fund and teach people to be location independent. Very few people actually get on the plane, and of those that arrive, very few will do much work, and of those that do, very few have reasonable expectations of what percent of businesses will work and how fast they will grow.

    Basically to be an entrepreneur, you need to plan for the average failure rate, which means 1 of your businesses is going to fund 9 other failed experiments. That’s normal.

    And you can’t just rely on one. Tech changes, consumer desires change. You need to be constantly creative.

    Finding people who can work in teams, and yet are willing to make the sacrifices that entrepreneurs must make, is nearly impossible. It’s like herding cats.

    People want to pay for hope. Like buying a lottery ticket. Actual opportunity, with all the real world risks and costs, is interesting to nearly no one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some people also have a taste for startups, small businesses, etc. If you have that taste, that inclination… fantastic. Particularly if you also have the skills to work it.


    1. That is almost total nonsense, and it is exactly the kind of thing I’m addressing. I heard that Wall Street Playboys changed proprietors and I hope this is an example of the idiots who are running it now.

      There is no generic “industry.” “So. We’ve already instantly killed the original part ‘what should i do’. You’re going to do whatever it is that you currently do but you’re going to offer it directly to the consumer.” The overwhelming majority of jobs are attached to an industry and set of industrial relations / connections that can’t simply be severed. These guys don’t even seem to understand why firms exist.

      You can tell this writer is a clown because he doesn’t even list what industries he’s talking about. How does someone in hotel management freelance? How does a high school teacher? How does a billing specialist? The list goes on. Most jobs cannot magically be freelanced.

      In a small number of fields, it is possible to quit and freelance. But, EVEN if you have skills that can be sold piecemeal (most people don’t), that also requires sales, marketing, billing, and other expertise.

      Most large firm functions can’t be magically re-created. A guy working for Apple, or a hospital, cannot quit and re-create Apple, or a hospital.

      I DO think, and say, that if you are in an industry where you have specialized skills you can turn into a freelancing gig, sure, do it. Most people don’t. The lack of specifics in that post is indicative of that writer’s errors and lack of knowledge.

      Liked by 1 person

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