How I ditched the ‘nine-to-five’ grind
TRAVEL enthusiast Julie Ta used to hoard her precious annual leave for future overseas trips. These days, she no longer has to.
In fact, in the past two years, she's jetted off to Taiwan, Tasmania, Hong Kong and Bali and Japan twice - and she's now planning another trip to New York, as well as a three-month stint in Japan.
The 25-year-old is able to pull off her enviable lifestyle as she's one of a growing number of "digital nomads" - small business owners who are able to plug in and work from any location around the globe.
Melbourne-based Miss Ta launched her digital marketing company Akin Studio around two years ago, meaning she's managed to ditch the "nine-to-five" daily grind for good.
And according to data from invoicing company Invoice2go, almost two in five micro businesses like Miss Ta's are now operating remotely or on the road, meaning business owners are increasingly embracing on-the-go careers.
Miss Ta said she's never looked back after leaving full-time work behind her.
"The freelance lifestyle doesn't compare to full-time work because it gives me enough flexibility to set my own hours and get everything done in my own time without it being dictated how and where I work," she said.
"I can work weekends or after hours; it's more suited to how I like to work and the nature of the job I do.
"I remember when I was working full-time my goal was to travel at least once a year but everything is more flexible now so I can travel a lot more often."
She said her career allowed her to "pop in and out" of Australia and see the world while juggling clients' requirements - on her own terms.
"It's amazing - compared to how I used to work full-time, nine-to-five, this lifestyle is a lot better for me," she said.
"While there is internet available I'll always try to be available for my clients.
"If I'm sick, I can work from home anyway and I have the flexibility so that if I miss work for whatever reason I can always catch up after hours or on weekends."
However, Miss Ta said there were "pros and cons" to being a digital nomad, admitting she "never really switched off".
"There are pros and cons but I'm loving my current situation. For a while when I was working at home I found the human interaction element was missing, so I've tried to alleviate that by seeing clients in person more often, and I've developed strong relationships with clients through that human, face-to-face contact," she said.
"I have had to give up sick leave and paid annual leave and all that stuff but I still wouldn't go back to working full-time."
Miss Ta said she hadn't been paying into her superannuation since starting her own business, but that she has been looking into other ways of investing.
She is considering a self-managed superannuation fund and is also focused on paying off her mortgage.
"I'm not an extreme risk taker; I took a calculated risk by doing this on the side part-time before leaving my job. That made me more confident to make the jump to working freelance completely," she said.
"If you're thinking of doing something similar, try it out before quitting, work extra hours on the weekend so you're not at risk financially before you take the jump."
Miss Ta said she was inspired to start her own business while working full-time in digital marketing.
"That was my inspiration to start - I realised I could technically do my job at home, undisturbed, where I could fully focus without the distractions that come at work," she said.
"And productivity-wise, I've increased my focus and skills."