I recently returned from a 3 week holiday which was beyond words, but I have to tell you - getting everything set up was no easy feat. Preparing to go away for 3 weeks is a job in its own right, not to mention getting your business ready. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some of my tips on how you can get your business ready so you can take a break and relax. Holidays are important and you don’t want to be all on edge when you’re supposed to have the time of your life. If you prepare everything in advance you won’t have to worry about your business while cruising the Caribbean.
Just before I left I listened to The Business Experiment podcast 'You need to take a break'. The timing of this podcast for me was just perfect to make me feel less guilty about taking a break. Jemimah and Shevvone discussed the difficulties entrepreneurs face when considering taking a break, the issues with guilt and the benefits of having a break. You can listen to it here.
I recently celebrated a milestone birthday and I decided my "party" would be a 3 week holiday with my husband to the US and Mexico. After dreaming about this holiday for years, it was finally time to get this holiday organised. Once the holiday was organised, with the help of my lovely friend Jo who is a travel agent extraordinaire, it was time to start thinking about the business. So I've listed below, in no particular order, my tips for getting your business ready so you can take a well-deserved break.
So I've listed below, in no particular order, my tips for getting your business ready so you can take a break.
1. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Even though you will be on your vacation, you will want to check your mail every now and then. For that purpose, you will no doubt be using Wi-Fi while you are travelling. But public or semi-public Wi-Fi networks are dangerous because they are open and allow for snooping. After one of my lovely clients was hacked using the free Wi-Fi at McDonalds I was cautious of using free Wi-Fi. A VPN is what you need to set up to make sure your browsing is secured when you are using free Wi-Fi. I used VPN when I was on my vacation and all my passwords are still safe. VPNs are great because they are made to protect all of your traffic including email, voice calls, streaming videos and everything else you can think of. I used Betternet VPN which is free.
2. Data pack
When you are travelling overseas the last thing you need is to be hit up with extraordinary data roaming charges. That being said, I recommend you contact your service provider to see what data packs they have available. I’m with Virgin Mobile so I bought one of their data roaming packs. I was able to choose an amount of data that I thought would be right and add it to my plan. So if I wasn't able to use free Wi-Fi, I could still use my phones data pack and not be worried about the bill as I had paid upfront.
3. Cloud technology
Setting up your email and documents in the cloud is a must if you are going to be accessing these things whilst travelling. Clouds are a safe and free way of storing important data that you can access to any time you’re online. With Cloud technology you don’t have to worry about forgetting an important document on another laptop – it’s all in there. I recently switched to Google Drive for my emails, and I love it. I also use Dropbox to save all of my files, and I can share these with clients as well so we are accessing the most up-to-date version. And the best thing is - no more sending large files via email and hoping they get through. It's all in the cloud!
Scanning documents is tricky at the best of times, not to mention when you are travelling and don't want to cart around half a filing cabinet. You can scan all the important things with a handy little app on your phone like scannable. Evernote Scannable is a free app (both for android and for iPhone) for digitising paper documents quickly and effectively. This app is designed to render accurate, crystal clear and sharp text, so most of the brightness, cropping and contrast will be automatically done for you.
I scanned our passports so I had a soft copy of these should they be lost or stolen (I did actually loose my passport in LA but some very kind soul took it to the police station which I will be forever grateful for).
5. Staying in touch
Most of you are probably familiar with these tools already, but let me mention them anyway. Skype and Google Hangouts will allow you to have meetings while you are travelling. They’re both free and all you need is an Internet connection and a smartphone or a laptop.
My husband and I were travelling without the kids, so it was important to stay in contact and send postcards. But we all have experienced postcards arriving long after you have returned home, which is kind of pointless, you have to admit. To avoid snail mail and belated postcards, enter Send out cards on your iPhone or Android device and find a handy little app you can have on your phone. This app allows you to upload your own holiday snaps to your phone and send a postcard in real time while you are sipping cocktails by the pool. These personalised postcards only cost $1 for the postage plus some points for the card which is both cheaper and faster than traditional postcards. You can find out more about Send out cards by emailing Dhea Bartlett here or get 2 free cards here.
7. Business babysitter
No matter how far ahead you plan things it is fairly certain that something will crop up while you are away. You won’t be able to relax if you’re constantly checking your email and worrying about the things you may have forgotten to do. If you want to have peace of mind, why not get someone to virtually look after your business while you are exploring the world? That’s the only way you will make sure that all of your clients get a prompt response or that you don’t forget to post something on your Facebook account. I have "babysat" businesses before for clients which can be anything from checking emails to responding to client enquiries, updating social media, loading blog posts, the list goes on. Contact me today to see if I can help you.
So there you have it, my top 7 tips for the travelling entrepreneur. Do you have any tips you find helpful when you are travelling? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below!