Our featured interview this week is with Jennifer Lachs, Founder of Digital Nomad Girls, a community of location independent women who learn from and support each other.
Jenny is truly one inspiring lady with a genuine passion for providing support and connecting women entrepreneurs all over the world. She kindly took the time to share her story with us:
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, have you always been an entrepreneur?
Hi there! Absolutely not! In my ‘old life’ I used to be a chemist. I studied organic chemistry for nearly 10 years, carrying out research in labs in Munich and London before I swapped my labcoat for a backpack and went on an around the world trip. After travelling for nearly 2 years I realised I didn’t want to return home so we moved to Chiang Mai in Thailand to become digital nomads. Even then I wasn’t really planning to become an entrepreneur, I originally worked as a freelancer.
2. How and why did you come up with the concept for Digital Nomad Girls?
I was just starting out as a freelancer at the time and worked from a coworking space. Often I found myself as the only girl there, or one of only few. So I started looking for other digital nomad girls online. And while I found travel bloggers etc, I didn’t find a community for female digital nomads, so I decided to start one. Originally it was just a Facebook Group which quickly grew to thousands of women around the world. And then eventually I realised I had created something special and that it had a lot of potential, so I decided to go all in and try to turn it into a business.
3. How has the journey been so far? Did you face any difficulties starting your own business?
Oh it’s been an interesting ride. I think every entrepreneur faces challenges and bumps in the road, that’s completely normal. But to be honest, for me the biggest challenges have been around mindset and confidence. When I decided to take DNG from a passion project to a business, I felt completely overwhelmed and also unqualified. Having studied for so long, I think I have a mindset of having to prove my credentials at every step of the way. But it doesn’t work like that in business. Nobody will give you permission to run a business and make it successful, you have to believe in yourself first.
4. What have been the ups and downs of running a business AND being a digital nomad / location independent at the same time?
Finding a routine while travelling is challenging, even after over 3 years. It always takes me a good few days to settle into a new place so I have to make sure I travel slowly. It can also become lonely if you travel fast, that’s why communities like mine are so important. And that’s also why I created the DNG Inner Circle, a coworking community that travels with you. That way, I always have a tight-knit network of amazing women coming with me wherever I go.
5. You speak to many women within your community, freelancers, start-uppers and full blown business owners. Have you made great new connections and what have you learnt from them?
Oh yes! I am so grateful to meet incredible women from all walks of life. To be honest, this is what it’s all about. I love meeting new people, making new friends. I’m very extroverted so I really need to have this connection very regularly. I’ve connected and made friends with women who are 15 years younger or 20 years older than me, which is wonderful. It’s almost impossible to say what I’ve learned from them as I feel it was probably 90% of all the new skills I’ve learned over the past 3 years.
Most importantly I learned that we all struggle with the same things, it’s normal. It’s how we deal with the mindset struggles and ups and downs of business that will show how successful we become.
6. You’ve recently started the DNG Inner Circle. Tell us more!
Yes! The DNG Inner Circle is basically the core family of Digital Nomad Girls. I call it the coworking community that travels with you. As digital nomads we lack accountability, community and consistency. This can really impact our happiness and productivity, so that’s what I wanted to provide with the Inner Circle.
We have regular virtual coworking sessions where we meet virtually and work together. In the breaks we chat, ask for feedback or help and get to know each other that way. We also invite experts every month to create a mini-course on different topics around online business and travel. We have monthly goal setting workshops, Live Q&As, accountability buddies, habit challenges and much more. We have a wonderful bunch of women in the Inner Circle and nothing makes me happier than seeing them work together, hire each other, start projects or even businesses together. It’s wonderful!
7. Having travelled far and wide, what is your favourite destination so far and is there anywhere left on your bucket list?
Oh that’s such a difficult question and yes, there’s plenty left on my bucket list! I think the more I travel, the longer my bucket list gets.
One of my favourite destinations I ever visited was Belize. It’s such a magical and relaxed place and I absolutely adore the Caribbean. I also love Australia and Thailand, oh there are so many!
8. You also run digital nomad girls’ retreats. Could you give us an insight into what happens on these, when is the next one and how can we join?
Yes we do! That’s the first time I actually created a product for DNG and it was our first retreat. It came about through chats we had in our Facebook Group. We’d organised local meetups but the girls wanted more, to meet for longer. So I organised a 7 day retreat at a coliving space in Spain and have since run 2 more.
It’s a mix of activities that we do. I host mastermind sessions and skillshares, we organise activities like kayaking or snorkelling, we also cook together, explore the neighbourhood on photo tours, and the girls also have time to cowork, as most of them have client work to do or have to keep their businesses running.
The next one will be in Spring 2019, somewhere in Europe and if you’d like to join you can sign up to our retreat waiting list here: http://landing.digitalnomadgirls.com/retreat-news
9. How do you see the company expanding?
Oh I have so many ideas! That’s not the problem, it’s more difficult to make sure not to get distracted by all the new ideas in order to actually grow. At this stage my focus is the DNG Inner Circle, I would love to really grow this to be the heart and soul of DNG. And I love running retreats so they’ll always be a part of DNG and I can’t wait to explore a few new destinations with the girls. Apart from that, there are so many things I’d like to do that it’s hard to say what’ll come next. I think some physical products are definitely something I’d like to do and more in person events.
10. Lastly, what advice would you give any entrepreneur who doesn’t know where to start?
Start somewhere. I think I’ve yet to meet any entrepreneur who set out to do one thing and then actually ended up doing exactly that. If you’re unsure just write a big list of all your skills, your ideas and ways how you can help other people using these skills. That’s the most important. Your business must help someone, otherwise there’s no need for it.
And second, I’d say start surrounding yourself with other people who are entrepreneurs or aspiring to be. It’s so incredibly important to build that network early on in order to stay inspired and motivated and to learn from people. The entrepreneurial world is pretty friendly, so there’s nothing to be shy about.
If you want to find out more about Digital Nomad Girls & join the DNG family you can find all the information you need here.
If you want to gain great access to monthly masterclasses, Live Q&As, Goal Setting Sessions, Virtual Coworking days, exclusive member discounts and more, we highly recommend you join the DNG Inner Circle.