Building your own business from the ground up is a challenging yet rewarding experience – and running that successful business from the road is even more rewarding.
It takes vision and determination to establish a high-functioning, successful company with your own two hands.
You’ve done that, so congratulate yourself on seeing a payoff for your hard work! And now that your business is generating profitable returns, consider the possibility that it might be time to hit the road and experience life.
Traveling to new cities or countries can prove beneficial for both yourself and your company, allowing you to share experiences and grow your network.
But how do you manage company ops while still enjoying the freedom and inspiration of travel? It can be done. With careful planning and savvy use of technology, it’s entirely possible to sustain your high-grossing business from the road.
After all, remote work is definitely on the rise.
How to run a high-income business from the road
Here are just a few crucial things to consider running a business from the road:
- Will your team operate effectively without you there?
- Do you have remote access to your business over the Internet?
- Are your Internet connections reliable and consistent enough from the road?
- Can you outsource repetitive or daily tasks to remove those burdens when traveling?
We will discuss those questions, and a bunch more, in this article. But first, what gives me the authority to write on this topic? I do this every day.
Many of the tips for running a business from the road are universal, whether your business is large or small. Others will vary depending on your particular line of work.
As a solopreneur who specializes in writing, I interact mostly with graphic designers, editors, and clients. We’re scattered all over the world, so juggling time zones can be a challenge. There was a stretch recently when I was in Lima, the designer was in Vietnam, and the editor was in Toronto.
The key is to be flexible.
My husband’s business involves web development and systems integration. He has more than a dozen employees, but they have worked together for years. One of the most important considerations for him is making sure he has top-notch broadband access when he’s testing new software.
Whatever the challenges are for your specific business model, the key is to identify them early and plan ahead.
Okay, let’s start in. First, we’ll discuss the importance of building the right team.
1. Cultivate Teamwork
Before you set off on your grand adventure, you also need to make sure your team is capable and ready for you to be away from the office and work from the road.
Relying on a team you trust to carry out day-to-day operations (as well as handle emergencies that inevitably will pop up) is vital to living a productive nomadic life.
Evaluate your team’s performance against projects on the docket to decide whether it will be feasible for you to work away from the office.
Be sure to set very clear expectations early in the process so that each worker is on board with their tasks at hand. It helps to communicate your own plans and challenges while you’re transitioning away so that your team can better understand how to help and facilitate a smooth transition.
Clear communication is key between every member of the team, not only from the manager to team members.
Often, performing a trial run before you leave for good can help prepare the team to understand the way daily functions might work and what will be expected of them in each context. This is a good way to work out any kinks in the plan that might present themselves.
It’s also important to make a full evaluation of your company’s position before deciding if the time is right to set out on a grand adventure. If your business venture is relatively new, consider postponing your travels for the time being.
Starting a new company is very complicated, and it takes time to adjust to the needs and demands of a new business. If you try to take your business on the road too soon, it can spell disaster for the company you have worked so hard to create.
2. Use All Available Tools
Relying on the tools available for managing your company while you’re on the road is a key to success. Several programs and platforms, many app- or web-based, can help you and your staff manage the daily procedures integral to running a business.
Software exists to help with accounting, project management, ordering and fulfillment, and scheduling, among other processes. With the right security protocols, storing your data in the cloud is safe and lets you access company information from anywhere.
The right tools can help keep your team connected and engaged while you’re away. And when the team stays connected, everyone can complete projects while meeting deadlines.
Before you hit the road, though, make sure to take ample time with your staff to set up the necessary automation processes, then test and practice working with them. Through thoughtful organization and subsequent testing, you can be sure your automations are positioned correctly (and accessible through a reliable internet connection).
This thoughtful preparation helps ensure that once you do hit the road, these tasks can run seamlessly in the background while you tackle higher-reward tasks that bring a better ROI.
One of the best technical weapons a road warrior can wield is cloud storage.
This technology allows you to save and access images, documents, programs, and just about any other asset you can think of in a virtual storage system known as “the cloud.”
Information stored in the cloud is safe and secure, and easily accessible. Based on security preferences, other people on your team can get real-time access to documents stored in the cloud.
This can help make communication seamless and strategic, and keep processes running efficiently, even when you’re not in the office.
3. Create a Solid Process
Identify exactly what tasks need to be completed while you’re away.
Separate tasks between what you must do and what you can delegate to others, and what can be automated ahead of time. Identify who will be responsible for each aspect of day-to-day operations and stick to the plan. Creating a clear and solid process for operations before leaving will help prepare your staff to efficiently run the business during your absence.
Before leaving, you’ll also want to create a list of essential contacts for both your employees and your clients. Codify a virtual chain of command to make it easier to work through potential problems in an orderly and effective manner.
Remember that while you’re on the road, an internet connection will not always be guaranteed; be sure to have multiple ways you can contact your essential people, including email, telephone, communication apps, and even social networking platforms.
4. Network at Events
Trade shows and conferences can help to improve your business’ standing in your industry.
But, the obstacles of time and money often prevent business people from traveling for these networking opportunities. Luckily, if you’re a working nomad to begin with, it’s easier to plan your schedule around important events in a given area.
By taking advantage of trade shows, not only are you able to network with your peers and potential customer base, but you also can keep an eye on competitors and learn about innovations and changes in the industry.
Planning for a trade show can be challenging, especially if you’re away from the office.
These events take time and meticulous preparation to ensure the presentation of your product or service in the best light possible. Online checklists can assist with trade show planning to help ensure a smooth and successful event. Start the planning process early to make sure you have all the necessary supplies and coverage at the office.
5. Update Your Technology
Because it’s likely a lot of your work will be completed from a vehicle, plane, hotel room, or café, it’s absolutely vital to use the most up-to-date technology available.
Your tech, whether it’s your laptop or mobile phone, is your lifeline to your company and customers. Malfunctioning or outdated software can have huge implications for your company’s operations. Repairs to your equipment can take days or even weeks.
Being without your technology even for a day or two can cost valuable time and money.
Before leaving, evaluate your ability to successfully complete daily tasks on your current laptop and mobile phone. Make sure all SIM cards, software, computer OS, and Wi-Fi connections are up and running.
It’s also vitally important to research common tech glitches in the areas where you’ll be traveling, as not all equipment is operational in all areas. Problems will always crop up when you travel — but by doing a trial run with all your equipment before you leave, you’re more likely to anticipate and prevent problems before they occur on the road.
6. Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi!
The key to maintaining a high-performing business from the road is staying connected and accessible. Anytime you work remotely, your Wi-Fi connection will be the lifeline that keeps you in contact with clients, business partners, and employees.
But, coverage is never universal, and lacking Wi-Fi at least once in a while is almost a certainty for the digital traveler.
It’s prudent to never assume you’ll have access to a wireless signal and always have a safe Wi-Fi backup plan. There are several pieces of equipment that can help improve your access to the internet.
Consider using solar panels, antennas, hot spots, routers, or 4G boosters. Many successful nomadic business people even subscribe to multiple carriers to take advantage of alternative options.
If for some reason you’re not able to connect, even with improved internet access technology, consider other tactics. While it may be tempting to visit a café or coffee shop, keep in mind these signals can be unreliable or slow. A better choice might be a library — or even a laundromat, oddly enough.
Lastly, always make sure you have a solid, go-to person on your IT team whom you can reach out to in case of an internet emergency. This person should be trusted and able to relay communications to the rest of your team and clients.
7. Explore Remote Options
If you’re planning on working remotely for the foreseeable future, why not offer the same opportunity to your employees?
This option can provide a number of benefits: First of all, allowing employees to utilize wireless technology to perform their duties from home can open up the job pool to a greater number of available applicants.
Also, employees who work from home can choose to set up their base camp in a city like Kansas City, for example, which has great amenities combined with a lower cost of living.
When employees can live in affordable areas, they require less in annual salary to cover their expenses. So not only can smaller cities allow your employees greater flexibility and opportunities, but also they can help bring more money to your company’s bottom line.
8. Rely on Outsourcing
Alongside your automation efforts, you might also consider outsourcing daily tasks. It can be helpful to find a person or company to help you and your staff handle the daily and weekly administrative tasks that might otherwise bog you down. Duties such as payroll, accounting, data entry, and bookkeeping can easily be delegated to an outside company.
Outsourcing can help benefit your high-income business in several ways. First, many bedrock operational tasks rely on a solid, uninterrupted internet connection — which, as was mentioned earlier, is a luxury you can’t be sure you’ll always have while traveling.
Furthermore, delegating these tasks to an outside company will save you time and money. When your valuable time is returned to you, you can pay more attention to managing your team and engaging in higher-level functions. This, in turn, will help generate more profit in the long run, offsetting the amount you’d be paying a company to cover administrative tasks.
9. Tackle Taxes Early
Working from home or from the road can pose some complicated tax implications.
For example, just a few questions that might affect your situation:
- Can you write off your vehicle expenses?
- What about gas?
- How about business expenses incurred along the journey?
Sorting through the questions of what is taxable and what is not can be confusing and time-consuming. Unfortunately, when you’re constantly on the move, taking your questions and tax documentation to a brick-and-mortar accounting office is not always possible.
There are several online tools at your disposal, including tax calculators, to help you anticipate your yearly return or calculate what you might owe in taxes. Online tax programs also give you the opportunity to organize receipts and tax documentation digitally.
If you’re regularly moving from town to town with various modes of transportation, keeping an organized binder of documentation is just about impossible.
Being able to digitally organize the necessary documentation will not only make taxes easier but also will lighten your load while traveling.
10. Build Lasting Relationships
While on your journey, you’ll find golden opportunities to establish and grow relationships with those around you. Building relationships in this context is two-fold.
Firstly, travel allows you the opportunity to network with existing clients, but it also gives you the opportunity to meet new people along the way. Having the capability to travel to current clients can help strengthen your existing relationship. A face-to-face meeting on the client’s turf can allow you to enjoy time together in a fresh setting, potentially propelling your relationship to astonishing new heights.
The ability to network and connect with potential new clients is also beneficial.
If you’re traveling in uncharted waters, having help from locals is invaluable. Not only do locals understand the lay of the land, but they are in tune with market conditions, cultural mores, and opportunities in the area. Creating a lasting impression and starting a relationship with new people along your journey will only help widen your network of colleagues and clients.
Additionally, while traveling, consider each interaction an opportunity to build your social media network. Relying on the internet to stay connected with the world as you travel can work to your advantage.
Being on the road will allow you to better communicate with potential clients via email and social media. Embrace the capabilities of social media platforms to better sell your business and continue to grow lasting relationships.
Molly Barnes is a full-time digital nomad, exploring and working remotely in different cities in the US. She and her boyfriend Jacob created the website Digital Nomad Life to share their journey and help others to pursue a nomadic lifestyle.