Many people start businesses because they want the freedom to be their own boss. Similarly, many people travel the world because they want the freedom of seeing different countries and cultures.
So it may seem that a logical idea would be to combine the two and run a business while traveling the world as a digital nomad. Thanks to the Internet and social media, you are almost never completely out of touch with your business.
But with freedom comes responsibilities, and running a business while traveling abroad means shouldering a great deal of responsibility. As much as you may want to close your laptop and go enjoy the beaches and temples of Thailand, you have a company to run and must be available at odd hours, work a great deal, and deal with the unique stresses which happen from traveling abroad. Such a life is, frankly, not for everyone and requires discipline and mental fortitude.
If you can make it work, the result is a rewarding and enriching experience as long as you commit to these 4 important steps for your business to survive.
Know your Work Hours
Time zones are one of the biggest challenges which you
will face if running a business abroad. I have had moments being abroad where I forgot about time zones and tried to contact important persons at inappropriate hours leading to embarrassment and apologies.
But that does not mean you have to always adjust your schedule to accommodate them. An important thing to do when hopping from time zone to time zone is to try and work at the time of day when you are most alert. Whether you are a night owl or early riser, try to get your work done during those hours.
A major benefit of traveling and running a business is that you no longer work the stereotypical 9 to 5 schedule, and instead can focus on working shorter, more intense hours as Business Insider and other analysts have spoken highly of. Under the right time zone, you can get your work done before sunrise and then spend the rest of the day exploring.
Get a Wi-Fi Hotspot
There are few things more concerning than plopping down in a new spot and trying to check in with your workers through Skype, only for the call to be spoiled by a bad connection. Having reliable Internet is critical to your job, and you may have to worry about important websites like Google or YouTube being blocked off in your current country.
Before settling down in a new home or hotel, ask the owner to conduct an Internet speed test so that you know the Internet will be reliable. If it is not, there are plenty of options for digital nomads to ensure a reliable connection. You can buy a 4G hotspot device such as the Skyroam Solis which will keep you constantly connected.
Another option is to find a coworking space, which should be present in any major city. These are essentially offices set up across the world which you rent for a short time. They offer more reliable internet and more space to work compared to a café.
Know your Limitations
Running a business is tiring. Traveling can be tiring. Combine the two together and you can find yourself on the short road to exhaustion and burnout.
The most important thing you can do to avoid burnout is to know your limitations and learn to say no. Any successful business must learn to say no because as Jessica Stillman with Inc. points out, they know what they must focus on. This is especially true when traveling, as you may feel the need to do more work than everyone else to show them that you are a serious manager and not some traveling dilettante.
If someone comes with a business proposal which does not help your business, say no. Also learn to say no and be willing to stay in and work if some traveling companions want to have some fun.
Visit in Person
The Internet and Skype make communication easier, but there is no substitution for meeting people face to face, especially if you don’t have a small business signal booster to ensure connection of all your staff. You will likely have to head home at some point or another. Use the time to personally check that things are going well in the business, meet with workers who you may not have gotten the chance to speak with face to face, and use the time to schedule important meetings.
Do make clear that you will hit the road again eventually, and that communication via the Internet and Skype will remain the best way to reach you. Even if you do not plan to head home, take care to communicate through Skype or other video calling services as opposed to emails. Face to face communication, even with the Internet will show that you are truly committed to the business even if you are not in the same country.