My 5 golden rules for running a business from the beach
We are often asked, how do you do it? How do you manage to travel as much as you do and still keep your business going? It’s funny because it’s just something we do; we have never really sat down and defined it. There has been a lot of trial and error, and we have had to take a lot of trips to get it down to this fine art!! Of course we have made mistakes, like when we visited my parents when they lived in Spain; they assured us there would be internet access so we didn’t plan a contingency. When we arrived high winds made it impossible to maintain a wireless signal. We spent a week trawling down to the town every morning from their mountain side home to run our business from a cafe- which frustratingly closed at 2pm for siesta!! Or, only recently when we failed to agree a contract before we left, so paperwork sat on our doormat at home and a project slipped behind schedule. But we have learnt a HUGE amount about what is important to keep on top of things, and what isn’t. So for those of you tempted by the idea of trying this out, here are the key pointers which spring to mind as pretty crucial.
Number 5- don’t expect it to feel like a holiday.
When you are on the beach your main priorities are keeping topped up on sun tan lotion and getting stuck in to a good book, right? This may be true if you only plan to spend one or two weeks a year away. But if you are planning on fitting in A LOT of beach time, then you need to shift your mind set. For me, beach lounging a great of getting away from the laptop, but it’s also a prime opportunity for focusing my attention on other business areas. I get to catch up on audios or teleclass recordings; I talk over new ideas with Chris, weighing up the pros and cons; I get to make notes and lists, away from emails or calendar tasks. This works for whether you are on a hike, watching a sunset, taking a long journey. When you are running your business away from home, your office just isn’t confined in quite the same way!
The perfect location to relax
Number 4- have days off
This will sound crazy to most people, but when you working from an exotic location it is still really helpful to plan days off. You don’t have to be strict about it, it can depend on the weather or just what you feel like that day, but if you have observed rule number 5, then work will be with you all the time. So you still have to take days out and switch off. If you are in a new country you need to make the most o fit as well, so take time out to explore. Seeing new sights, experiencing new cultures and facing unusual challenges might just keep you creative and inspired!
Quad biking on a day off
Number 3- get the tech right
This point is crucial because if you want your office to function from a beach towel, you need to have it set up right. There is more ‘stuff’ than you might think to make this easier for you (and too many for this post!), but the key essential are; an internet connection. Make sure you are connected for at least certain hours of each working day. It isn’t hard- we had wifi in Nicaragua where our neighbours shared their homes with chickens and didn’t have indoor running water.
Our local street in Nicaragua
Plan your accommodation according to the speed of the connection, if you know you need to send or receive large documents for example, or you know you get frustrated by slow loading pages. Have a back up- mobile internet resources, such as your smart phone or internet ‘dongle’. Find an easy way of making calls, i.e. install a Skype app on your smart phone so you can use the internet to call cheaply.
Number 2- set clear expectations
If clients are used to being able to get hold of you at a moment’s notice you may not feel comfortable about leaving them ‘hanging’. Neither might you want to let them in on exactly what your plans are. It can be helpful to be vague, i.e. ‘I will be working out of the country for the next few weeks’, or ‘I will be operating from a different time-zone until early January’. This can imply you have business overseas- and that’s probably not going to hurt your reputation! If you have a steady internet connection you can usually reply within 24 hours, wherever you are in the world, and usually a great deal less than that. If you are planning to take a few days out and won’t have access (i.e. if you are on safari, scuba diving the barrier reef or climbing a volcano perhaps!),
No internet up here!
just be clear that you will be ‘off site’ for a few days and will deal with your messages when you return. You can leave an answer phone message on your office line back home saying that you aren’t available right now but someone will call back the same day and you can dial in to check your messages every few hours. And if you have a high volume of general calls/ emails- hire a virtual assistant for an hour or two a day to take care of the basic stuff and alert you to anything you need to deal with.
Number 1- don’t feel bad about it!
There were times when I just wanted to keep quiet about where we had been and what we were doing. I felt guilty when people would say , ‘you are so lucky you don’t have to sit in an office all day and have someone else tell you what to do.’ But its far worse to have an idea but not put it into motion because of some sense of, ‘everyone else has to go to work in the usual way, why do I deserve to be any different?’ I bet we have all heard the people who wistfully say, ‘I would have loved to have travelled.’ Surely if it was a priority they would have made it happen? Everyone makes their own choices. Maybe there are things we are missing out, but we want this lifestyle more.
This is why we work
We don’t drive a new car or own a huge house. We do travel abroad, a lot, because we have set our business up specifically so we can do this. When you start living your dream lifestyle people will be envious, and if you are anything like me, that may not be comfortable for you. But it doesn’t mean should apologise for it either. You have designed your life this way so you can enjoy it. So now, enjoy!