Half way through a 6-week holiday in Europe with my family, I thought I would write this article to share how I still manage to run my business while I am away enjoying time with my family.
One of the main reasons most people go into business is to have freedom and flexibility.They dream of not having a boss to dictate working hours and annual leave, of being in control of their own destinies, having a great lifestyle enjoying hobbies, friends and family. Unfortunately, most people I see who go into business end up with the opposite – they are literally chained to their business, working up to 60 or 80 hours a week and unable to leave even for short breaks away. This is where things go wrong, and businesses suffer from the effects.
Having time to do what you like outside of work is a very important part of life, it clears your mind, energises your brain and refreshes you to go back and work on your business. Travelling is especially useful as it teaches you a lot about different cultures and how different countries solve the same problems. It opens your mind to new ideas and you never know, you might come back with a new business idea!
The good news is that taking time out and travelling is getting a lot easier for business owners with the availability of new technologies, tools and services that make you and your business mobile.
Here is a list of the tools, services and strategies that I have used and recommend, for spending more time away from your business.
1. Learn to delegate!
If you have staff (if you are a solopreneur jump to the next item) then you must start trusting your team and try teaching them most of the things that you know so they can carry on without you. Most business owners try to do everything themselves and control everything rather than letting their team do it. Having trained staff to run the business without you is important in case something happens to you or you decide to sell your business.
2. Put systems and procedures in place
Great systems and documentation for every process are essential so anybody can come and pick up your business and run it. This can be a big job but the benefits are far reaching, not only will it assist in having time away (to travel, play golf, spend time with friends and family etc) but is important for succession planning ensuring that the business that you worked hard for doesn’t disappear when you are not there and you will be able to sell it for a premium price.
Since I am an accountant this is the main part of my business, but it is as important for any business to have access to their accounts at all times. I use Xero which means I have access to all my transactions, so I can see who paid and what has been deducted from our bank account. I can see our accounts payable and recoverable, make batch payments to our suppliers and load direct debits for our clients. I can see the state of our cashflow and profitability of business, daily. Some of these tasks are done by my staff but I can still check when I want to see the overall business performance. I can access it from my mobile, iPad or laptop which makes it easier while I am travelling.
4. Capturing invoices and expenses
If you are travelling for business you will have invoices and receipts that you need to capture and enter to your accounting system to make sure you claim them, and you don’t want to carry those papers around. If you are on a long holiday you don’t want to miss the supplier invoices that you must pay so you can give them a special email address that they can send the invoices to and all the invoices will be captured, and you can pay them using the handy Xero batch payment function.
5. Dashboard Monitoring
If you really want to keep track of your business in more detail, you need to create information and graphs. At Wise Advice we have created a dashboard for you and you can access it from the client login area. Another good tool that you can use if you live in NZ is www.addplus.co.nz by ASB Bank and you don’t have to bank with them. It is free and links to multiple sources of data and compiles free reports and graphs that you can check on your phone using their mobile APP. This is especially good if you are a retailer and using Xero.com and Vendhq.com
6. Emails, files, documents, online meetings
We use Office365 which handles all our email, internal communication, file storage for all our files and documents and lets us use the office suite online to edit the files. You can use Skype for business to run meetings with your clients or your staff. You can use gsuite.google.com/ if you prefer which does almost the same things but with a different interface, so you can use Google Drive for your files, Google DOC for creating and editing files and Hangout for communication.
7. Good internet and mobile connection
If you are travelling a lot, it is important to have good internet and mobile roaming, so you can be connected at all times. In NZ I found Vodafone.co.nz to be the best in roaming - you pay $5 per day and you get what you get in your plan in NZ for most countries. (You can check this on their site). If you are visiting countries which are not included, or you are staying for long time, then the $5 per day can add up. You will need to do some research to find a local provider and get a local sim card. In this case, I suggest using a dual sim card phone. I used to have an iPhone and then a Galaxy, but I have moved to a ONEPLUS phone which has been great. The latest is Oneplus 6 which has dual sim and all the bells and whistles you need at a very reasonable price (there are lots of options here, just Google ‘dual sim card phone’ and see what you like). This means you can carry your phone and if you get a phone call to your number you can still receive it while you are using your data on your other sim card.
8. Telephone communication
One of the main frustrations with travelling before now, was the phone system. The office needs to receive calls and transfer them to your mobile and they couldn’t see if you were available or busy or even sleeping, in my case, in different parts of the planet. We use Cradle.io which replaces the desktop phones with mobiles, with lots of other clever functions. I can change status if I don’t want to answer the phone then I can choose if calls can be transferred automatically to another person in the company or for them to leave a message, the messages would be emailed to me and I can answer them very easily from anywhere. I can also make a call from the app on my phone which will show our main office number on caller ID and not my mobile number. This is great because if they miss my call and call me back on that number while I am not available they will be transferred to somebody else in my office, (or any other call flow I may choose).
9. Capture ideas!
www.evernote.com or onenote.com
One of things that happens when you travel is seeing new things that stimulate your mind to think of good ideas or something that you can use in your business or even turn into a new business. But how many times do you go back home and you either don’t remember what it was or forget to implement it? I use Evernote to capture all the interesting things I see and think up. The good thing about it is you capture by taking photos, typing, hand writing, drawing, clipping a website or even voice, so it doesn’t matter what sort of method you prefer. I use the photo and voice because I can turn it on and talk on the phone rather than typing away and when I see interesting things I take a snap and then leave a note, so I remember why I took the photo. You can also take this to action a plan so when you have created the note then you can set a task/reminder so when you go back home, and it pops up, you can start actioning. If you have it now you can capture this and read it when you have time 😊
When you travel you spends lots of time waiting around in transit and that’s the best time to learn something new. Blinkist has a free version that gives you audible book suggestions to listen to everyday or you can go to the paid plan and choose what you want to listen to. I use Audible and buy the book I want to listen to, or if you prefer, you can search for a podcast which is a bit different. It’s more like a radio format that where you have a presenter talking about a subject or interviewing somebody else.
By using some of these ideas, you can be sure that when you go back to your business everything is in order and both your body and mind are energised to get started and take your business to the next level.