My one-bag mobile set-up
- Days: 3
- Flights: 2
- Miles traveled: 2676
- Work: On the flights (of course), at Starbucks, and acted as a gaffer for a photo shoot at a location outside New York City.
- Work-out: Track intervals, jump-rope, bleachers
The trip started off with a whimper as I was hit with delays in Seattle and Boston making my way to New York City. When I finally hit the ground in New York after 12 hours of travel, I was whisked off to a photo shoot — but just to hold the lights.
If I could only give you one piece of advice for setting up a location-independent business, it would be to rigorously plan your communication systems – internal and external.
Communication is one of those prime movers of business, and a nomadic lifestyle will very quickly highlight the gaps in your communication systems. Clients and customers these days expect consistent and timely updates. Without regular updates, they will most certainly go elsewhere to satisfy their needs. Internal personnel – employees and contractors – require regular direction and feedback, or the train that is your business can quickly derail or stall.
Now, I am certainly not advocating that you should ALWAYS be online or available by e-mail, phone or IM. That would counteract the independence inherent in a location independent business. One of the great joys of this type of business for me is the opportunity to travel, explore, meet new people and learn new things. If you were stuck monitoring e-mail, the phone or IM constantly, you would miss out on a major piece of the “independence” of a location-independent business.
My Communication Tools
I recommend that you set up internal business systems that do not require your constant attention and build communication structures around those systems that will meet the needs of your clients, customers and internal personnel. I will get into the internal business systems more in a later post, but here is a list of communication tools I use to run my businesses:
External – clients & customers
- Voice: I use a VOIP system that is forwarded to my cell phone when I am out of the office but that is also answered by employees when I am not available. I use Skype for voice calling when out of the country or when a client wants to conduct a Skype-to-Skype call.
- Email: I can check e-mail on my laptop, iPhone or iPad, but e-mail with certain criteria are automatically forwarded by filters to specific employees who deal with those issues.
- Communication management: Highrise: I maintain a history of all my client communication in Highrise by forwarding e-mail to my account’s secure dropbox or by typing in synopses of phone conversations. Also, Highrise allows me to set follow-up reminders to maintain the consistent feedback with my clients I believe is required in a professional service business.
- Project management: Basecamp. I am a huge fan of Basecamp for projects involving more than two people. Updates are sent to my e-mail, making constant checking unnecessary.
Internal – employees & contractors
- Voice: Skype is my preferred method of voice internal communication, especially when I am traveling overseas. I will also call my employees and contractors from my cell phone if absolutely necessary.
- Email: Same as external. My employees only send e-mail to me when sending dense content-laden communication.
- Communication management: SocialCast. I don’t know what I would do without SocialCast. It is a Facebook-like application for internal business communications. Employees post updates on what they are working on, issues they have run into, resolutions to those issues, and questions or issues for me to address. The threaded conversations make reviewing a chain of communication about a particular issue fast and easy.
- Project management: Basecamp. We use Basecamp for coordination with contractors, so everyone is on the same page.
These systems work for me. The bottom-line, though, is that I recommend testing different communication methods to find the collection that will keep your business running smoothly while you’re away.
Speaking of which — I am off to Costa Rica!