Last week marked the first anniversary of my Estonian E-Residency and the founding of my remote company, Arias & Thompson Digital. Far surpassing my expectations, E-Residency has provided me with the framework to conduct location-independent business across borders and live a more flexible life as a self-employed, digital entrepreneur.
A Change of Scenery
Flash back to a year ago, I was living in the Middle Eastern expatriate hub of Qatar. Working for a Canadian university, I knew my time there was coming to an end as I had no interest in renewing my contract with the university.
As my wife and I looked to leave Qatar, the real question was where were we going next and what were we going to do there? When my wife was accepted in her doctorate at the University of Manchester, the where and the what were solved quickly.
During my time in Qatar I had developed an extended network of professional from around the world. The question of how could I capitalize on these preexisting, international relationships in a new city and country still remained.
I had been doing some off the books freelancing for clients in both Qatar and elsewhere for a few years and had established several repeat accounts. Although small and inconsistent, I looked to build on these relationships and establish my own small agency to focus on more rewarding and challenging work.
I decided that I no longer wanted to work for someone else.
I had explored this earlier. Living in Qatar as a Canadian, my options were limited. Business registrations in Qatar are complicated and do require substantial financial and time commitments to get started, let alone succeed. It also would require me extending my time in the small GCC nation, a difficult proposition for both myself and my family. Canada was also not an option to put my business due to me not being resident there for a long period.
In comes E-Residency.
In my research for non-resident business options I came across Estonia’s E-Residency program. Unlike other nations that sold themselves as tax havens, Estonia could provide me with resident services (without actual immigration or residency), an EU-based legal system to do business, and a business setup that did not require a prohibitive financial contribution or commitment.
A significant factor in establishing my company in Estonia was for both the reputation of operating from within the EU and the digital services that are accessible.
E-Residency gave me the opportunity to do business remotely on my terms.
A Long Weekend in Tallinn
During the business setup my wife and I elected to travel to Tallinn to pick up my E-Residency card and card reader and open a bank account. At the time an in person meeting was still required to open a bank account, a requirement that has since been lifted for several nationalities.
Although I would no longer need to travel to Tallinn to establish my business, I am glad we did. We enjoyed our three days in Tallinn and it only reconfirmed my decision to place a business there, it has since become one of our favourite European cities. We are planning on returning there to spend more time, we just need to find an excuse!
Full Time Growth
One year since the establishment of Arias & Thompson Digital, the company’s revenue’s has far surpassed initial expectations. This is in part due to the agency’s niche offerings of customized web services for small businesses, but also due to the low overhead and administration costs from operating using E-Residency.
Without large overhead expenses such as office rentals, E-Residency provides me with:
- ease of operations and financial administration through a support package from LeapIn
- full digital invoicing
- digital banking with LHV Pank
- digital tax filing
- digital signing of documents such as annual reports and company amendments
The Way Forward
Moving into our second year of operations, I am looking to grow internationally. Currently we are offering support and custom web design and development to clients in three continents. My goal is to add a fourth in the coming months.
By using Estonia’s E-Residency program, I have been able to discover a balanced lifestyle where I work for myself.
It is the gig economy, 3.0.