When you own your own business, there’s one thing you know for certain: You are never really “off-duty.” Even when you can set healthy boundaries and close shop for the night and spend an evening at home, or you take a well-deserved vacation, you are on call to handle any problems or issues that arise. The same goes for business travel: When you’re out on the road meeting clients or taking care of other business, there’s going to come a time when you need to handle things back in the office.
Fortunately, today’s technology allows you to keep everything running smoothly, whether you’re just at home having dinner or on the other side of the world. By investing in a few key services, your business won’t miss a beat while you’re gone, and you won’t be overwhelmed when you return.
1. Hire a Virtual Assistant
“Entrepreneur” magazine once called virtual assistants a “startup’s secret weapon.” A VA is someone who works remotely, handling tasks as you assign them, and are ideal for delegating those tasks that are important but that are taking up too much of your time. Most entrepreneurs who hire VA’s are those who don’t need or can’t afford a full-time assistant, but who also need to delegate important tasks.
When you have a competent VA on your team, you can be confident that he or she will take care of issues that come up while you’re out of the office, and only bring you in when necessary. For example, a VA can manage your calendar and set appointments, respond to urgent messages, handle your social media postings, and even do some customer service work while you are out of the office. The best part is that most VA’s work freelance on an hourly basis, so you only have to pay for the time he or she works, and not an annual salary and benefits.
2. Invest in a Wi-Fi Service
When you’re on the road, connecting to Wi-Fi can be a challenge. In some places, it’s challenging to find a connection — and when you do find one, you can’t be certain that it’s secure. Using cellular data isn’t always practical, so how do you stay connected? Entrepreneurs should invest in a Wi-Fi service that allows them to securely connect to any hotspot, wherever they happen to be. Whether you’re in a hotel room or a coffee shop, or just relaxing in a hammock on a beach, with a Wi-Fi service you can generally log in on any device right away without entering (and potentially exposing) your credentials. This makes it easier to work on the go and reduces the chance of a data breach.
3. Use Cloud Services
The cloud is perhaps the best thing that’s happened to business travelers in the last decade. With cloud storage and applications, anywhere you can get an online connection, you can work. So, when you client needs a document right away, but you’re busy exploring the Grand Canyon, you can easily access your cloud drive and email the document in minutes, keeping your customer happy and your business moving forward.
4. Plan Ahead
Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, you are leaving for a few days or a month, planning ahead and creating a schedule can keep everything on track while you are out of pocket.
Some of the ways you can keep on top of everything including:
- Creating a centralized project management calendar or system where everyone can see what’s in progress and the deadlines. Identify the tasks that need to be completed while you’re away, and delegate them to an assistant, automate them, or add them to your daily itineraries.
- Using automation whenever possible. Scheduling blog and social media posts before you leave ensure they will get done. Use an automation service to queue up your posts, or delegate the task to your VA.
- Planning your days. Understanding your natural rhythms can help you make the most of each day. If you’re at your best in the morning, take care of work tasks before lunch, and then spend the afternoons sightseeing or relaxing. Schedule time later in the day to respond to emails and return calls.
- Setting boundaries. Work-life balance is important, so if you’re traveling for pleasure, set boundaries and stick to them. This means putting your phone away, letting your VA handle things, and enjoying some time to relax. Let your clients and customers know you’ll be out of the office for a bit, when you will return, and what to do in an emergency.
Even when you’re out of the office, there’s a good chance you’re thinking about work. You can give yourself peace of mind even when you aren’t there, though, if you follow these simple steps to keep everything running smoothly in your absence.