As many of you know, (those who have been reading this blog or following me on Facebook), our family is spending the summer living in Bocas Del Toro, Panama.

Our plan is to be here until the end of August, but to continue to run our real estate investing business as if we were still living in San Diego.  While this might seem like a daunting task for some (living in Central America and still closing deals in the USA), after a few short days I’ve figured out the key tools that anyone needs to do this successful.

This is by no means a complete list, but it’s what I planned for when I left, and so far, is proving to be accurate:

1.  High Speed Internet

This might sound obvious, but running your business internationally absolutely requires high speed internet.  I found this out the hard way in Greece during a 2008 trip: the internet was painfully slow (think 1990s dial up) which made for unproductive business time, and a grumpy business owner (just ask Dreama, my wife).  Now when you’re heading to an international destination, you can’t always be assured of high speed internet quality, but as the world develops, even here in Panama, we’ve found the internet to be very fast.  Fast internet then sets you up to use my next essential tool, which is:

2.  Vonage

I’ve been using Vonage for nearly 6 years now, because it gives me unlimited long distance calling to anywhere in the USA & Canada, plus over 100 other countries.  But the best part about vonage is that I can bring my adapter and a phone with me, and use my phone just as if I were in the USA.  This means that people in the USA can reach me just by dialing my old phone number, and I don’t have to pay long distance to call them!  The quality is awesome, and it makes it really easy for friends and business people to keep in touch with us while we’re abroad (they never have to dial internationally!)

3.  Skype

I used to absolutely loathe skype, but now I find it an outstanding tool to use to keep in touch with employees, contractors and our interns.  We can chat (think: IM), speak by voice, or even do video calls.  I listed Vonage ahead of Skype because Skype only works if the other party has the app installed.

4.  Docusign

Docusign is a great technology that allows you to sign things with the click of a mouse!  In other words, no need to lug a printer, scanner or fax maching abroad, or track one down while you’re traveling.  Simply create a free account, and sign documents digitally!  They also have some great apps, including one for Microsoft Outlook and another for the iPhone and Android mobile devices.

5.  A Great Business Partner

While this is for certain the most important “tool”, it’s not something that you can just buy or download.  You actually have to spend time cultivating a great relationship and being able to implicitly trust that person while you’re away.  Fortunately I found such a great partner in San Diego that I’m able to this, and with the technology I listed above, we can do pretty much everything we normally do when I’m in San Diego.  The Panama trip is actually great practice for when I’ll be back in Vancouver continuing to run our real estate investing business in San Diego.

One final tool is to also make sure that you have a great support/administrative staff in place.  If you’re just getting started, or you’re worried that you won’t have enough work to assign a full time (or even regular part time) employee, maybe you should consider getting a virtual assistant.  If you’re interested, here’s a webinar we recently hosted in our other business revealing how any business owner (or real estate investor) can get a virtual assistant and get their first 40 hours of work done FOR FREE!

That’s all for now.  I’ll try to post more often, but I’m excited that within our first 2 weeks of arrival we will have sold one property (estimated net profit around $42,000) and acquired another one.

PS- If you’re looking for a great resource to help you do more deals by getting more leads, then click here.

PPS- Tell me that if you’re thinking about Panama, you can’t but help singing this classic 1980s rock and roll tune:

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