Jason Vander Griendt, 40, earns about $2 million a year in a business backed by a loyal team of contractors. He does so while traveling the world, and his base is in a two-bedroom apartment at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto. He has visited 60 countries since he founded JCad International, which produces 3D renderings of products and parts, and sideline Render 3D Quick, which creates photorealistic digital representations of real estate. He started JCad as a side business in 2006, when he worked for a company until he was sure he could replace his salary. JCAD now brings in 30% of the revenue and the rest is brought in by Render 3D Quick, which was founded in 2013.
Vander Griendt is part of two trends that have kept him at the forefront of economic change. For years, he ran a million-dollar one-person business — also known as a “non-employer” business in the U.S. government’s parlance, with no employees other than the owner. He relies on more than 50 experienced contractors, some of whom have their own teams in countries around the world, paying them about 4 times the market price.
The number of million-dollar one-person businesses has grown every year in recent history, with 43,012 companies breaking through from 41,666 to $1 million to $2.49 million in 2019 (the most recent year for which census statistics are available). Income Category 2018. The ultra-efficient 2,553 earned between $25,000 and $4.99 million, and 388 earned $5 million and above.
Vander Griendt is also a digital nomad, a trend accelerated by the pandemic. In the U.S., 16.9 million U.S. workers now call themselves digital nomads, an 8% increase from 2021 and a 131% increase from 2019. These workers “work and live remotely from anywhere in the internet-connected world,” as described in the 2022 Digital Nomads Report by MBO Partners, a provider of back-office services for independent workers led by Emergent Written by Research.
Some digital nomads are self-employed freelancers and entrepreneurs, such as Vander Griendt. About two-thirds are workers who have been allowed to work remotely amid the pandemic.
What is driving this trend?An early but continuing source of inspiration for many – including Vander Grint – was Tim Ferriss and his 4 hours a week, published in 2007. “Tim Ferriss was ahead of his time,” said Miles Everson, CEO of MBO Partners.
The pandemic also played a role, with technology advancing rapidly and more and more companies embracing remote work. The pent-up need to get out of the four walls that many of us have weathered the pandemic has also played a role.
“After the pandemic is over, a lot of people want to travel,” said Steve King, partner at Emergent Research. “As a lot of people come out of Covid, we’re seeing people continue to pay attention and go out and do things. Almost everyone Both told us they would be doing some international travel, but in terms of time spent in the year, most were more domestic. One of the fastest growing segments was “van-lifers” – in motorhomes and vans people. Most digital nomads are part of the slow-moving movement.”
According to Everson, this could be a harbinger of things to come, with Gen Z and millennial workers making up two-thirds of the digital nomadic workforce. “If you think of your workforce planning as a company, understanding how you embrace and motivate digital nomads must be part of your core strategy,” says Everson.
Whether the tax code will catch up remains to be seen. If an employee spends part of the year in another country or even a part of their home country, the employer’s taxation is complicated. “Companies are only now starting to realize this,” King said. On top of that, immigration laws typically restrict visits to other countries for three months, he said.
Despite the limitations, van der Grint has created a way of life that is all about freedom. “I don’t have a timetable,” he said. “I can do what I want. I can do it when I want, where I want it.” (You can do this by watching my recent talk with him and two other like-minded entrepreneurs at the New York Public Library. A replay of the free community event and two Forbes articles: “How To Be Like A Million Dollar One Person Business Owner” and “He Made a Million Dollar One Person Business By 3D Printing”.
On a typical day, he would get up at 8 or 9 in the morning. He would then spend an hour replying to emails that came in overnight (unless they had already been responded to via an automated template he used to simplify communication). Vander Griendt is not someone who follows industrial-age structures like team meetings, which he avoids, instead writing to any contractor he needs to email and sending the finished work to the client. “Then I drink coffee, relax, go to the gym,” he said. “I go to the spa and steam room.”
For a week, he reads three books a week, highlighting his favorite business books on his Instagram account (@jasonvandergriendt). Some of his options: Genghis Khan and the Formation of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford, Some lessons for investors and managers Warren Buffett, and Top 5 regrets before dying In Brownie Ware.
He found that living in a hotel apartment was ideal for an entrepreneurial lifestyle, given the constant influx of other businessmen. “It’s a great place to meet like-minded people,” he said.
He also spends a lot of time finding and developing relationships with contractors, mostly from the freelance platform Upwork. He usually tests them with a small pilot item, which takes about five minutes, something like “Put this on the left. Put this on the right. Make it blue, make it red.” If he takes the item back and They followed the directions and he would commission them for more advanced paid projects.
Over the years he has been running his own business and he has traveled to Eastern Europe and around the world to meet with contractors and their families. In August, he traveled to London, Italy, Greece and the Turks and Caicos Islands, combining business and pleasure in one trip that allowed him to meet with contractors and clients.
All of his prime contractors started their own businesses, often hiring other contractors in their country. His relationship with his team, which includes many of the contractors he has worked with over the years, goes beyond the usual outsourcing relationship.
When Vander Griendt found out that one of his contractors living in Ukraine had to work at night because a local power station had been bombed and limited power, he bought a generator for his team members. When another man had to move into an apartment after his home was destroyed in an explosion – and the apartment was also destroyed – he paid the contractor a full month’s wages so the contractor could work on a new Place to settle down.
He already knew his contractors so well that he put them in his last will and testament. “During the Covid-19 pandemic, I thought if I went by accident when I was young, there would be a lot of people who depend on me suddenly without a source of income,” he said. “It’s not fair to them, so part of my fortune will be divided equally among them. They’ve done so much for me, so it’s the least I can do for them as they transition to other things.”
These strong relationships have helped his business grow. Sales tripled during the pandemic, while his marketing costs fell. “When Covid hit, a lot of my games ended,” he said. “We’re all working remotely. We don’t have to shut down. Competition on Google is down like crazy. They’re all shutting down Google Ads.”
He also runs his business on the Pareto principle, always realizing that 80% of the results come from 20% of the inputs. He pays close attention to this when inquiring from clients, asking himself, “Is this one of the 20% of clients who give me 80% of my revenue — or are they wasting 80% of my time?”
The continued success of Vander Griendt’s business bodes well for other digital nomads looking to break free from the shackles of the past and embrace the freedom the internet continues to bring – whether they’re working for themselves or others – and are looking for a source from nomads company of. As Everson puts it, “This population will only continue to grow.”