How to Build and Run a Business while Traveling

If you ask an entrepreneur why he decided to put up his own and run a business, chances are “freedom from structure” comes a close second to “financial freedom”.

A recent study by Forbes magazine revealed that despite the challenges, difficulties and unpredictable work hours faced by entrepreneurs every single day, more than 60% would not go back to a 9-to-5 job. People from the Millennial generation will opt for work flexibility over salary increase according to a report by Millennial Branding.

With mobile technology firmly in the driver’s seat as the preferred medium for accessing the Internet, there are more incentives for people to adopt a mobile workplace. For some, the definition of a mobile workplace exceeds the boundaries of four walls but crosses over oceans and continents.

But is it possible to build and run a business while traveling? Yes, and here are some tips to get you rocking without rolling in business misery:

        1. Research on the places you are traveling to. When you’re managing a business while traveling you must ensure your ability to communicate and connect would not be compromised. Number one item you should research about the places you are traveling to is Internet connection.

According to Ookla in terms of download speed; Australia ranks 58th in the world with an average of 17.68 Mbps. Not shabby but if you are planning to visit Venezuela you will have problems accessing your e-mails because the average download speed is only 2.23 Mbps. Now imagine if you have to send work to your client. Upload speed is usually 40-45% of average download speed. So if you’re trying to send work to your client from Venezuela, you’ll have to contend with an average upload speed of less than 1 Mbps.

There are ways to cope with these issues. First, you can buy a SIM card and check with the local provider if they offer plans that offer higher Internet speed.  Second, check with the places you plan to settle at for the duration of the trip. Find out if they have wi-fi connection. Another issue you will have to potentially deal with is shared Internet connectivity. If you are a budget traveler this will be an issue because most mid level lodging have limited resources for top level, highly-secured Internet connectivity. Third, you can check online and see if they have virtual offices.

Regus is a world class virtual office with locations in almost every corner of the world. Because of economies of scale, they are able to provide high quality Internet connection for their tenants. For example, in the Philippines which ranks 173rd in the world in Internet speed with only 3.68 Mbps, some of the Regus offices have their primary internet bypass local internet providers and connect directly with PacNet of Australia. You can lease a Regus office for a limited time period.

       2. Plan ahead of schedule. The earlier you prepare for your travel, the lesser the probability of mistakes or oversights happening. Ideally, you should start the planning process from three (3) months out to allow for contingencies. Here’s a process flow you can use to reference for pre-travel planning:

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1. Review your calendar and prioritize outstanding work.

2. Schedule weekly meetings with your people and make sure everybody stays on course before you travel.

3. Review pending documentation that needs to be accomplished before you travel.

4. Arrange payment schedules with creditors and suppliers.

5. Advise your clients of your schedule. It will be up to you if you want to provide them an itinerary of your travel. Ideally you should as a show of trust and transparency. You should also provide them a list of contact people in your absence.

      3. Hire Virtual Assistants. If you are running a small business with limited capital but plan to travel, your best option would be to hire virtual assistants. In fact, it could be your best strategy in keeping track of your business.

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A Virtual Assistant or VA is an independent contractor who renders services online. They are highly skilled and will cost you significantly less compared to a full-time regular employee. A VA will typically cost anywhere from AUD$ 7 to AUD$ 15 depending on skill level, experience and scope of work. A full-time office employee will range from AUD$ 16.50 to AUD$ 20 per hour plus benefits. Assembling virtual teams are increasingly gaining popularity because of its comparative cost advantages and high degree of productivity.

If you are traveling, you can hire a VA who can handle your affairs after regular office hours. Or if you choose, you can hire two virtual assistants; one who works during regular office hours and a second who works after regular office hours. This way, you always have someone to contact regarding business matters.

      4. Be mindful of your time. Travel takes a whole new different meaning when you are building or running a business. The anticipation has been moderated by the need to meet deadlines and go over work matters. So travel has been reduced from pure pleasure to part work, part recreation.

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Thus, you have to be more mindful of your time. Clients may accommodate your travel plans but only on the condition that time-tables are regularly met. Given time zone differentials, this may become a challenge but it remains something you should always keep in mind when in different locations.

Different locations mean different cultures and in some places, the locals can become extremely accommodating. You will just have to set your foot down and muster up the courage to say, “No” or request if these activities can be re-scheduled at a more appropriate time.

      5. Identify your optimal working hours. Ideally, you should maintain your regular working hours but then again, time zone differentials could rear its ugly head and you may have to adjust your routine to accommodate your clients.

When you have your regular working hours these are normally designed to support conditions which allow you to perform at your best. This means you already have a set routine. Sir Richard Branson once said that regardless of where he was, he would always start his day by swimming or playing tennis for at least an hour to be followed by breakfast before taking on work matters. He is productive by the mid-morning and seeks to maintain this practice regardless of where he is the world.

Optimal work hours vary from one individual to the next, but whatever it is you should strive to maintain consistency. Jet lag or time zone differentials can affect work performance. But these can be nipped in the bud simply by eating very little on the flight, taking in high quantities of water, drinking a probiotic supplement and staying well-rested.

Mobile technology has made it possible to work and go see the world at the same time. But there are hindrances along the way. Perhaps your perspective of travel will change as it will no longer be for pleasure. But then again in business, just like the life of an entrepreneur, you have to be prepared to make compromises.

Felix Tarcomnicu works with Outsource Workers, a company specialized in outsourcing virtual assistants. Connect with him on Twitter.

About The Author

Felix Tarcomnicu

Felix Tarcomnicu works with Outsource Workers, a company specialized in outsourcing virtual assistants. Connect with him on Twitter.