Doing Business from Costa Rica (or Not)
After reading my last blog, are you still thinking that you can take a holiday to a warm and very exotic location and continue working your business every day? I had similar lofty expectations and goals for my holiday in Costa Rica (but no matter the country — you can be heading to a beach in Hawaii or a bus tour through France). Here are more ‘business saboteurs’ that can get in the way of your intended productivity.
- WiFi – or not. When it comes to holidays, there can be too much WiFi, and for many, not enough. Costa Rica is now in the 21st century with cell phones and WiFi in most places. When we first started visiting Costa Rica six years ago, we would walk around town holding the laptop up to find a signal. Now, in most tourist locations near the beach, WiFi is available everywhere. The signal is strong and usually consistent. If you are trying to get away from it all, I advise you to check your computer or phone once, no more than twice a day, then hide it. Put the technology out of sight. Bury it in the back of the closet. Here’s your holiday mantra: Repeat after me: “Business will carry on without me.” You will be a better parent, business owner and friend.
- Family and friends – I can’t tell you how many times while on vacation, just when I have the best of intentions to sit down and write, one of my loved ones decides they want to do something fun. It’s amazing how this inevitably happens at the time I want to get productive. If you are serious about working while away, plan to work really early, or stay up late. If your travelling companions are middle-aged, they will be in bed by 10:00 p.m. If they are young, they’ll still be in bed at 10:00 a.m. You don’t want to miss the joy and fun of spending time with family and friends. Just pick times when they aren’t around. It makes for a lot less resentment.
- Shopping – how can shopping sabotage a business owner’s daily productivity? Let me use the Costa Rican shopping experience as an example. In Costa Rica (or any other Central American country), simple grocery shopping can take hours. We stay in a small beach town in the state of Guanacaste, located 45 minutes from the nearest large grocery store. We can drive to a large tourist town or we can shop where the locals shop, at a large Costa Rican chain store. The grocery store in the tourist town caters to a market that appreciates the imported products that are familiar to most North Americans and Europeans. The other store understandably stocks items and brands comfortable for the Ticos and Ticas (the men and women of Costa Rica). We prefer to support local and love the adventure of trying to figure out the Spanish labels, and learning how to order from the meat counter. There is always a smorgasbord of exotic fruits and vegetables to explore. It’s also a great way to practice a new language. On one such occasion, we had our own private language coach by way of the grocery cashier. Once he discovered that we didn’t speak much Spanish, he took it upon himself to teach us the Spanish word for every item that went through his till.
So, if you are travelling and someone says, “We need to get groceries,” be prepared for a long excursion — but it can be a lot of fun and a great way to get to know a country!
Remember that a holiday is a diversion from life and business back home. Take full advantage of the experience by living in the moment. Pura Vida!