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The Life of an RV Entrepreneur

Even if you don't know a truck camper from a motor home, you know that they're called "recreational vehicles," not "entrepreneurial vehicles." But according to Steve Anderson, that doesn't mean you can't run a business out of one.

Anderson, editor of the 14,000-subscriber "Workamper News," a publication for people who work while living as full-time on-the-road RVers, says that while many have jobs as park rangers, campground employees and other similar gigs, a sizable number are self-employed entrepreneurs who operate businesses from their mobile lodgings. According to Anderson, who is based in Heber Springs, Arkansas, there is more opportunity on the road than you might think.

BNET: Seriously, you can't run a business out of an RV -- can you?
Anderson: That's dead wrong. You absolutely can run a business out of an RV. We have literally hundreds of members running businesses out of their RVs and living in multiple places every year. With the advent of the Internet and especially now with the tools for bandwidth to connect to the Internet, the door is open to do multiple things from an RV.

We had a webinar last night and people were participating while they were sitting in a forest in northern Montana. It doesn't make any different any more as long as you have a satellite to get to the web or are in a campground with Wi-Fi. Now that's become commonplace. And you also have 3G and 4G cards that have created much more connectivity for people.

BNET: But you can't make a living doing this; this is only for people who are retired, right?
Anderson: Yes, you can make a living. We have people in their 30s and 40s who are successfully living the RV lifestyle and running businesses.

BNET: What kinds of businesses are they running?
Anderson: There are a lot of people selling products that are closely related to RVing. There are also folks that are doing everything from consulting to running dating services. There are attorneys and private nurse practitioners who are living the RV lifestyle. Some do business consulting. Another couple is doing ancestry, helping people explore their ancestors.

A real good example is the RV professor. Last May he left a college teaching job in Texas and now he and his wife are running the RV Mobile Academy. He teaches people how to repair and take care of their own RVs. He used to teach technicians on a college level how to repair RVs for dealers. Now he teaches that to people all across the country.

BNET: Is this becoming more common?
Anderson: It's definitely picking up pace. That's why we started a Workamper small business program. We're connecting them with consultants to help them understand everything from the legal aspects to marketing aspects, all the things a small business needs. We're also providing them a platform through which we're going to be introducing their small businesses to our membership base, as well as our dreamer base. We have about 20,000 folks in dreamer mode, who are just learning about the lifestyle and contemplating it for their future.

BNET: What are some things you can't do? Things that require large bulky heavy inventory?
Anderson: You're right, although even that has changed because of drop shipping. You're not going to have an auto parts store in an RV -- even though there are some folks that have very large trailers they're hauling behind RVs. They're doing the circuit of shows where they literally roll in with a small shop and open it up for display.

Really, the sky's the limit. From the standpoint of people wanting to experience America from an RV, they have the option to do what they want, as long as they understand the limitations and restrictions. But it's much more open now than it was five years ago. And I predict that's just going to get better.

Mark Henricks is an Austin, Texas, freelance journalist whose reporting on business, technology and other topics has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, and other leading publications. Learn more about him at The Article Authority. Follow him on Twitter @bizmyths.

Image courtesy of Flickr user aldenjewell, CC2.0

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