Leveraging the Internet to Level the Playing Field
People are born with more advantages than others. As a US Citizen, I have seen this first hand traveling around South East Asia (SEA) for 5 months and counting. For example, the US Dollar is more powerful than SE Asian currencies, giving me the opportunity to travel around many countries and purchase various things at a discounted rate. In a typical day, I spend around $10-$30 which includes everything from accommodation, meals, coffee, transportation, and other entertainment (site seeing, massages, eating ice cream). Nothing tops the feeling of eating a delicious local meal for about $1–$2 followed by a 1-hour massage costing around $5–$7.
However, the cost of living for South East Asians is relative to what they earn. For instance, the average salary in Ho Chi Minh City, (Vietnam’s biggest city) is about $456 per month. This puts SE Asians at a huge disadvantage when it comes to living like a “Westerner”. There are way fewer opportunities to travel and splurge on extracurricular activities. Their currency literally doesn’t allow them to. If they were to try and visit Western countries, things would cost them 4x to 20x more. It’s almost impossible.
The good news? The internet! Working in the tech industry for the last 5 years, I understand how leveraging the internet opens many doors for anyone around the world. In the past, I’ve consulted and built over 20 products for many businesses. Currently, I started a remote online company called 10factory where we are building our own products. I know what it’s like creating something from just an idea and giving it a life of its own on the internet.
While traveling, I have even helped locals by building quick websites and showing them tools to automate their businesses. For example, I made friends with someone from Northern Thailand who lives in a small village 2 hours from Chiang Mai. He loves trekking and usually takes Chiang Mai visitors on jungle treks with a local tour company. I mentioned he should maximize his earnings by taking people on his own treks on days he’s not working for the tour company. He mentioned he needed a website to establish credibility and get the word out. In about 30 minutes, using a page builder called Carrd, I built him thailandjungletrek.com and he’s gone on many personal treks since! I have a bunch of other stories like this but let’s save them for another post and move on. :)
My goal in this blog post is to show people living in underprivileged parts of the world, that using the internet helps you discover new information, develop valuable skills, and potentially build a life long career. As long as you have a decent internet connection and the discipline to learn, you can unlock opportunities for yourself that you didn’t know existed.
“The best teachers are on the Internet. The best books are on the Internet. The best peers are on the Internet. The tools for learning are abundant. It’s the desire to learn that’s scarce.“ — Naval
When it comes to learning valuable tech skills, you don’t need to spend the money attending a university to get a degree. You can find pretty much everything they teach online. Luckily, modern tech companies are hiring based on unique skills and don’t require degrees as long as you know your stuff!
If you’re from another country, learn new languages. Learn to build things. Learn skills that make you stand out. For more structured learning, you have access to countless free online courses or tutorial videos on YouTube. To bounce your thoughts off others, leverage forums, chats, slack channels and all types of communities.
With the internet, you have a window to the rest of humanity. Anything that has already been discovered is available for you to view in digital form.
In underdeveloped areas, people are constrained to certain viewpoints and surroundings. Someone living in a small village only knows the people in their village, their traditions, and their country’s currency. With the internet, they are made aware of new concepts and can see how others live and think.
For current events, there are amazing tools like Twitter where one instantly gets news direct from the source. There’s a ton of voices on Twitter and other social media platforms that provide lots of beneficial information. Additionally, others can hear your voice via social media, blogs, podcasts, and more. If enough people follow, you can build a brand to share what you think is useful from your experiences.
Opportunities to Earn More
Now that we know you can learn pretty much anything you want, I’m going to tell you how to put it into use. I certainly have by creating a remote business with 10factory, where I have been traveling while building my own software products with business partners on the other side of the globe.
First, it’s important to develop skills that are not constrained to your region. Someone that speaks English has more use than someone who speaks a language only used in one country. English is the language of business and in my opinion the most beneficial from a financial opportunity standpoint. Doulingo is a great free app to learn languages.
In our ever-evolving world of technology, more businesses need tech-focused skills such as software development, graphic design, and digital marketing. If you learn to utilize these skills, there are many opportunities to earn such as, starting an online business, freelancing or finding a remote job.
If you are starting an online business, realize that your potential customers are everyone on the internet. You can now create products that attract those in regions that have those “stronger currencies”. The internet does not limit which market or customers you target. If you are from a beach town but sell winter gear, you can now leverage the internet to sell to people in cold climates. This was something that wasn’t possible before the internet!
If you are looking to get hired as an employee, working from home a.k.a “remote work” is on the rise. In a survey of 1,000 hiring managers, 55% agree that remote work among full-time employees is more common now, and say they expect up to 38% of their full-time workers will be working remotely in the next decade. This is amazing news if you are someone in a place like Vietnam where people earn and live off less than $15K/year but you can earn a “Western” salary that is 2x to 10x greater.
This isn’t the perfect solution for everyone and I understand there are still hurdles, but hopefully, you have more insight on how the internet levels the playing field for the rest of the world. Let’s break free of our physical constraints and build things together in the digital realm! Feel free to tweet me @i_wein and I would love to discuss further or provide more resources for you to get ahead.