Running a Business on the Road: An Experiment in Mobile ConsultingPosted by Jessica Oman
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of information courtesy of the Suitcase Entrepreneur, Natalie Sisson, who is never short on tips and advice to help business owners run their companies from anywhere in the world. Recently, I experimented for the very first time with simultaneous travelling and working, and went on a camping vacation in the beautiful BC Kootenay region.
Camping and working turned out to be quite a bit easier than I had imagined. The provincial campground had a lovely Visitor Centre with wireless internet, and though I had to battle what seemed like thousands of mosquitoes that descended upon me while I sat motionless in front of my little netbook, I managed to get my most essential work done every day. The second campground I stayed in was a motorcycle camp called Toad Rock. Toad Rock is owned by an incredible woman named Mary who had built an outdoor bar complete with coffee maker, outdoor pool table, and of course a fast internet connection. I sat at the bar each morning for a few hours chatting with other campers, drinking coffee and consulting with my clients via email and chat. With the talented Antonia Issa back at the office in Vancouver to keep local business running smoothly, I had very little to worry about.
However, there are a few things I will do differently the next time I’m on the road. Here are a few tips I learned from my first experience, which may help you if you’re thinking about running a business on the road:
1. Plan for every type of inquiry
More than once during the trip, we were asked to provide writing samples. Though I have a good arsenal of completed work already, the portfolio wasn’t quite complete enough for what the potential clients wanted to see – so we had to compile some examples very quickly! I probably could have anticipated a request like this and prepared my files better. Thankfully, they were accessible from afar, via a great service called Dropbox.
2. Set up an email autoresponse
Oops, I meant to do this. Also, I should have changed the voice mail message on my phone. By letting clients and colleagues know exactly when I was accessible, they would have known when and how to reach me. This didn’t become a problem on the trip, but I can easily imagine how it could, especially if I went away for a long period of time.
3. Schedule your work day
By trying to get work done “whenever”, and fitting it in throughout the course of the day, it’s harder to enjoy the activities that make your time off a real “vacation”. By the fourth day I had this figured out, and got up early to do my work before friends were up and planning their days. Also, by putting together a schedule and sticking to it, your clients know when you’re available, and when work’s done, it’s done; there’s no need to stress or worry about what needs to be done the rest of the day.
Working from anywhere works!
My trip was relatively local and I’m sure even more challenges will be presented when I travel to other countries and time zones. My first experiment in mobile business management was a reasonable success and I’m looking forward to the next trip as I learn to adopt the “freedom in business” mindset that can also help you run your business from anywhere you want to be.