If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know that I own and run a little digital marketing agency. Our little brand just turned three years old, and I’m incredibly proud of it. When I first quit my job I didn’t even dream it would be as successful as it is today. I left my last job because I felt myself wishing away the week so that I could see Saturday and Sunday, to which I just slept because I was so exhausted. I wanted to travel without restrictions so I made the scary decision to leave my secure salary management job and went freelance.
With some hard graft, I achieved exactly what I set out to do. I exceeded goals and soon had more time and money, allowing me to travel more than ever. We managed to go away every month at one stage, which was great. Admittedly, we reigned it back in whilst saving for our wedding. But even whilst planning and saving for our special day, we still spent a THIRD of the year travelling and hit up 13 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe in the last 12 months. We were on the road for 2-month travelling around Europe, and I also visited Jordan, Italy, Belgium, France, Marrakech – then Cambodia and Thailand for 5 weeks for our honeymoon.
Great, huh? There’s a small caveat to all of this. When business is going well (and business HAS to go well to afford to travel), you get much busier. Keeping clients happy, managing staff and juggling campaigns are tricky enough as it is, but it’s a military operation doing it in a different times zone. There’s also no point travelling if you spend your entire time working. Along our travels, I’ve picked up some tips, tricks and tools that I’ve implemented to travel without your business going bust.
Build a strong team FIRST
When you have your own business or your freelance, everything hangs on you. Finance, marketing and sales, along with everything else, it’s all your responsibility. As your business grows, naturally, you begin to build a team of experts around you to support the business to grow. It’s important that you have processes in place and people around you that can help keep the business going when you’re not around. If you try and do this when you’re already travelling you’re definitely going to run into problems, as it’s not a quick job.
Boomerang is an extension for Gmail that allows you to schedule emails and remind you to keep on top of your inbox by bringing them back to the top of your inbox when a recipient doesn’t respond. It’s undoubtedly one of the most important business tools I use that helps me ensure nothing slips through the net. It’s free to install but there is a premium version for around £4 a month that gives you unlimited access to the tool, which personally, I believe is a bargain. This isn’t a sponsored ad or promotion, it’s just a really great tool.
Schedule with Buffer
Keeping clients happy, staying on top of finances and continuing to generate new business is so important. Things like marketing can be put into autopilot with a bit of careful planning. The last thing you want to be worrying about when you’re travelling is updating your business social media. You can easily prepare a whole years worth of social media activity in 1 day (yes, that’s right, 1 day!). Use a tool like Buffer to schedule updates on social media, so you can sit back and know that your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter aren’t going stale.
Install canned responses
Do you find yourself saying the same thing over and over again sometimes? That’s not necessarily a bad thing – having good processes in place is actually great for efficiency. Every time we onboard a new client we have contracts, invoicing information and account access instructions to send over. Writing these from scratch each time would take hours. Instead, I use the same template for each new client we onboard. Using canned responses if a quick way to access these templates without rummaging through your Sent box.
Front-load monthly activity
If you know you’re going to be having a week or two off then make sure you get everything done ahead of time. That might even mean thinking 6 – 8 weeks in advance (even when you usually wouldn’t!), so that you’ve got enough time to front-load your client activity. Put your business on full auto-pilot and even have the deliverables for your clients in an email ready to go that’ll be sent out using Boomerang. Don’t forget about scheduling your social media, getting invoices prepared and all that other admin stuff. It’ll really take the stress off and allow you to enjoy your holiday knowing your business is looking after itself.