Business and leisurely travel do not need to be at odds -- at least not anymore.
My home base is Manhattan Beach, California, but by deliberate design, location is not my ball and chain. In the past 90 days, while managing two businesses and a full time University load, I have traveled to San Francisco, New York, the Dominican Republic, Boston, Beijing, Singapore, England, Switzerland, and Hungary. And here’s the kicker: only one of these trips was initiated for “official business” reasons.
There are many tools and techniques that can offer even the most dedicated entrepreneur a generous monthly travel pass. Here are nine tips to get you started.
- Understand that not all businesses are crated equal. Some businesses (such as brick and mortar, retail, and service based businesses) require more on site management. If you’re looking for maximum independence consider product-based businesses that can exist online. However, there are almost always creative solutions that can lead to increased freedom.
- Build your team. Some businesses can be run by a one-man-band, but this is a lot of work, and not a very scalable solution. In this market, there is a lot of eager talent willing to work for less than an arm and a leg. The goal is to minimize rote tasks that don’t require your ongoing vision and creativity. Consider outsourcing to another country or reaching out to competent and motivated University students looking for internships.
- Train your team. From the very beginning, train with those around you to think on their own and minimize contact with you. This effective communication of your company values, principles, and policies (think decision trees) in black and white. Be sure to include your personal expectations as well -- the more clearly defined, the better. While overtly stating and emphasizing policy and processes may appear to depersonalize some aspects of daily business, I have found that most people don’t focus on perceived limitations when their responsibilities are explained. Take precautionary measures, but also put faith in your team -- and explicitly let them know you are doing so. You might also consider using productivity tracking tools such as Chrometa, Odesk, or Rescue Time, for remote team members.
- Create systems. Humans are the variable in most business processes. Therefore, auto-reminders, weekly and daily checklists, and policies are your damage control. Ask yourself how you can do something once and only once. A one-time-action may be an unrealistic goal, but the extremity of the question encourages a candid assessment and creative solution. Two warnings: One, every business is somewhat unique so pay attention to what works best for your goals. Two, a dogged focus on processes in the early stages of business can seem like an inappropriate use of time, but it actually provides a solid foundation to encourage the long term growth of your business.
- Always seek maximum efficiency. When on the road, inefficiencies will very quick erode your time, money, and enjoyment. Ask yourself, “Is there a better way to perform this process or get the result?” In most cases, we do things out of habit or tradition, not reason.
- Keep an eye on new technologies -- especially collaborative and cloud based tools. There are many new software programs and platforms available (and emerging) that could be the answer to your problems. Some excellent collaboration tools for many types of projects and goals are: GotomyPC, Google Docs, Google Wave, DropBox, Vyew, stixy, project2manage, and Dabbleboard. With an Internet connection you can remove many geographic contraints. You can stay abreast about new technologies by browsing tech magazines and blogs.
- Locate Internet hot spots quickly. While its possible, it’s very difficult to run a business with out access to a good Internet connection. It's nearly impossible for road warriors. Devices such as the Hi-Gain HWL2 WiFi Locator by Hawking Technologies help you quickly and easily locate WiFi hotspots on the go. You can clip this tool to your key-chain, belt or backpack so you don’t need to load up your computer each time. You can also visit certain websites to find hot spots in various cities around the world. Or, you can use phone apps such as WiFiFinder.
- Maintain a routine. Travelling is meant to be fun and enjoyable. However, sometimes the allure of exploration can supersede business obligations. I suggest scheduling your day in advance so there is a clear division of work and play. This also decreases the guilt-factor of "playing" during what would normally be work hours.
- Adapt. Few things test your business more than consistent travel. Take 10 to 20 minutes every 2 to 4 weeks to assess overall personal, business, and employee performance. Be willing to let go of what doesn’t work and adapt. Remember, systems are only as good as the people who implement them. As an important side note: Make sure those you bring into the company can embrace flexibility.
After working with the media from his teen years, Kent Healy has become a go-to source for creative insights on entrepreneurship, leadership, life-skills education, and productivity. Today he travels frequently and works remotely while operating his businesses in publishing and real estate.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.) provides its members with access to tools, mentoring, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. Our organization promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.