In today’s global society, we are no longer confined to 9-5 hours inside brick and mortar offices. In fact, any individual, from almost anywhere in the world, can run their business from the road with much greater ease – with the right plan in place. That’s where this week’s story comes in… With advances in technology you can literally work anywhere – from the Eiffel Tower, to a loan lighthouse off the coast of Maine. New contributor, Molly Barnes (Digital Nomad Life) offers her five tips to ensure you not only manage business from the road – but do so without missing a beat. It would behoove every professional to read Molly Barnes’ important and timely tips!
5 Ways to Run a Business from the Road
By Molly Barnes
O ver the years you have traveled a satisfying career journey, complete with highs and probably some lows, and with each step you have gained a lot of wisdom. Yet, despite the growth you have achieved, perhaps you have a nagging feeling that there are still some things you want to accomplish. Maybe you have got a bit of wanderlust in your blood? However, you also have a business to run.
Have you ever thought about traveling the country — or the world — while running your business remotely? You can! Not all digital nomads are freelancers stringing together independent gigs to make ends meet. Many of them are successful business owners, complete with employees, payrolls, and the whole nine yards. These entrepreneurs run their companies from RVs, campers, remote Airbnb rentals, or coffeehouses, often via their smartphones.
Managing a company in this fashion is quite different than doing it from a corner office, but it can be accomplished with some thoughtful, proactive business planning. If you have always dreamed of traveling — but keeping your business afloat while you are on the road — here are five tips to help you achieve that dream.
Business From the Road #1: Prepare your team
If you want your travel plan to succeed, you will have to make your team the first priority and set them up for success. Even more than when you are present, they will be the heart and soul of your company in your absence, and you will want them to be the best prepared they can be.
● Designate clearly the duties of each employee. Be sure your staff fully understand their specific roles and individual responsibilities.
● Designate a team lead. Choose someone trustworthy who can speak for you or make important decisions in your absence.
● Bring staff up to speed on any potential emergencies and train them on what they will need to do.
● Cross-train employees to ensure there are never gaps in coverage.
● Create a contingency plan and distribute copies to your staff.
● Do a few dry runs to test the effectiveness of your plans.
Once you establish a firm protocol to cover all aspects of your business, if you are out of reach, you can rest assured your team will be well equipped to handle everything as if you were there. Do not be afraid to delegate!
Business From the Road #2: Outsource whenever possible
Maintaining a good balance between work and play is a vital part of successfully running a business from the road. For instance, take the generic or mundane tasks that aren’t specific to growing your company – and then hand off these tasks to someone else. Hire an accountant, virtual assistant, data entry clerk, bookkeeper, social media manager, managed IT provider, or other key personnel to help take some of the burden off yourself and your team.
For outsourced positions or contractors who can work remotely, consider listing positions in cities where the cost of living is lower — like Kansas City or Tampa, for instance. These contractors are more apt to charge cheaper rates since their income requirements will not be as high.
Business From the Road #3: Embrace automation
Life on the road almost always comes with some unexpected events. The more you can automate the daily and mundane tasks, the more time and bandwidth you will have to stay present for the big moments.
● Select appropriate communication apps to stay in regular touch with your team.
● Research automated fulfillment options if you have products to ship.
● Invest in cloud storage so you will always have access to your digital assets and an ability to collaborate with your team or clients.
Use whatever tools you can find to help you embrace automation. Online platforms, software, or apps can be lifesavers when it comes to tasks like scheduling, project management, planning, and preparing for conferences or other events.
Business From the Road #4: Update your technology
Relying on technology has made much of today’s business travel possible. But as you know, technology can go on the fritz at any given time. When you are out traveling the world, this can be a big challenge because it is not as simple as calling your IT department or vendor to come help you out.
● Be sure to upgrade all your hardware and software before you go. Out-of-date tech is more likely to break down or prove incompatible with local connections.
● Schedule time to apply updates and patches on a routine basis.
● Pack extra batteries, SIM cards (check for local compatibility), flash drives, and chargers.
● If you can, tote an extra device to work from. This is a good way to ensure continuity if your primary device breaks.
● Upgrade to an unlimited data plan. You never know when you might need your phone as a hotspot — or when it might become your only device!
When you are on the road, you will be almost certain to encounter barriers to tech infrastructure, but the better planning you do in advance, the more likely you will be to have a solution at the ready when it does occur. Do not worry about the expense of buying extra supplies; these are tax-deductible. You can use an online tax calculator to determine how much you are able to write off.
Business From the Road #5: Amp up your networking game
It is easy to lose track of business necessities like networking when you are out hiking in the national parks or enjoying some rays on the beach, but this should always be a priority. And bonus: Some of the best brand exposure you can get comes from being on the road. Think of the conferences, business expos, and trade shows that can heighten brand awareness — in all those different regions where you can connect with like-minded people or potential partners and customers.
Finally, there are a few miscellaneous essentials you should address before you embark upon your new journey:
● Find out local immigration laws if you are planning to travel abroad. You want to make sure you have your passport, visa, and all other legal details in order before you cross the border.
● Choose a time zone. While you may be crossing various time zones, if you have a home office, theirs will remain the same. Same for your partners and clients. Keep this in mind when making calls or sending emails, and adjust your expectations accordingly.
● Maintain a semblance of routine. You do not want to create any extra disruptions for your business, so set regular hours for work and play (with some room for a bit of flexibility, of course!).
At the midpoint of our careers, it is not uncommon to become stagnant or feel stale. Setting yourself up to experience various environments changes up the normal routines, incurring one of the greatest benefits of running your business while traveling: a fresh perspective. A change of pace and scenery can help spark creativity and result in innovative ideas to help grow your company.
About the Author
Molly Barnes is a full-time digital nomad, exploring and working remotely in different cities in the US, along with her boyfriend Jacob.
Molly and Jacob created the website Digital Nomad Life to share their journey and help others to pursue a nomadic lifestyle.
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