Kisha Mays is always on the move.
Mays is the 33-year-old founder and CEO of Just Fearless, a business development consultancy that helps women entrepreneurs expand into international markets.
While she’s based in Hong Kong and Los Angeles, she spends around eight months of the year outside of the US, working on projects everywhere from Malaysia to Singapore to Italy to India.
“My lifestyle is unique,” she says. “Just because I get to travel around the world, I get to help women, and I get paid a lot of money to do it.”
“When you travel, it opens up doors,” she continues. “Even my clients in New York who have never left New York City, that is beyond me. I like that aspect of my life. I get to go around the world in the style I’m comfortable with, and I’m the boss.”
During a brief stop in the US to renew her passport and visas, Mays shared some of the ways she makes it possible to run her business on the road.
She doesn’t stay in hotels. Business travellers often complain of being weary of living in hotels, something Mays actively avoids. She prefers to rent a temporary home through AirBnb. “The most incredible places sometimes offer houses with great views,” she says. This past year, she rented a place in Thailand for five months to get easier access to projects in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. “It was easy to be based there,” she says. “Much easier than having to go back and forth to the US.”
She uses technology to streamline her workflow. Mays manages a team of 17, plus some freelancers. To keep on top of her work and at the head of her team, some of her favourite tools are:
- Trello, for project management. “It helps me keep track of everything and have conversations with my team.”
- XE Currency App, for on-the-go currency conversion. ‘When you’re overseas and you need to understand rates and currencies, that s a lifesaver right there.”
- Evernote, to keep track of everything that needs doing. “I can jot down quick notes and record stuff, and it goes with me no matter where I go — it’s consistent.”
She keeps her overhead costs low. Last year, her company’s annual revenue was about $US3.4 million, and for 2015, they’re projecting $US5 million. Mays estimates she takes home about 70% of that, due to the low overhead costs of running her business. “I hire freelancers and outsource,” she explains. “At the same time, employees can work from home, or from the office.” Plus, she explains, because she travels so extensively for business, many of her living and transportation expenses are tax-deductible.”It all works out in the end,” she says.
Mays has just a few words of advice for people who want to strike out on their own. “The greatest thing you can do is bet on yourself and just do it,” she says. ‘The worst thing you can do is not do it, and keep the security of your job. Have I had failure? Absolutely.” (In fact, she’s written a book about it.) “But if I didn’t have the failures, I wouldn’t have the success. As clichéd as it is, it’s absolutely true.”