I’m a big fan of vacations for every working person — including those at the top, or even solopreneurs. Sure, you play a major role in everything that your small business does every day, but a bit of R&R is essential to keeping your skills in top form and reducing stress levels, while keeping your family intact. So, how can you make this happen without sacrificing the stability of your company?
While it’s generally a good idea to have a second-in-command on site, it might be possible to continue leading your business operations by becoming a digital nomad — at least for a few weeks.
What Exactly is a Digital Nomad?
Thanks to amazing advances in technology, you probably don’t miss customer calls when you’re out and about, thanks to your smart phone alone. Digital nomads basically take this flexibility a step further. Between the Internet, portability of more devices, and other conveniences, they can travel more freely without letting go of the reins of their businesses — even if they run their businesses alone. Add some supportive team members into the mix, and their businesses can thrive when they’re sitting on a beach in a distant land.
What are the Upsides?
The obvious benefit of becoming a digital nomad is that you have the opportunity to unwind in a relaxing place while avoiding the worries associated with pulling yourself completely away from your business. By remaining connected (hopefully in a limited way), you know what’s happening. Certainly, you have a chance to interact when issues arise, but you also know when something really great happens. Imagine the personal morale boost if you hear that your business just received its first million-dollar order. Sounds like time for a celebratory Margarita!
Actually, when the boss is out of the workplace, your entire team reaps benefits, as well. For one thing, the people in your workplace also get the chance to develop their skills and demonstrate their value. This can translate into future promotions for them — and the possibility that your next vacation will be fully-unplugged.
Finally, don’t forget about the possibilities for future business expansion. If your travels take you from Austin, TX to New York City or even to Europe, you are likely to have a chance to expand your customer base, whether you meet future customers on the beach or at the bar in a colorful local restaurant.
What are the Downsides?
Of course, while traveling, you still need someone in or near your home base for coordination purposes, and this can be especially tricky if you work alone. A virtual assistant might be all that you need, but if you trust someone in-house to handle some of your responsibilities, things on the home front will probably run more smoothly during your absence.
Also, international travel can pose some challenges. For one thing, standard visas from some countries do not permit travelers to do paid work. You might also discover that the electric plugs on your devices are not compatible with a country’s electrical system. So, do plenty of research to make sure that you operate within legal bounds — and carry any adapters needed to recharge your phone, tablet, or laptop.
Finally, don’t assume that your destination will have reliable (or any) Wi-Fi or cell towers. There are beautiful places in and beyond the U.S. that might leave you unexpectedly disconnected. Perhaps you’ll have better access in nearby locations, but don’t count on it. Before you choose your vacation spot, keep this in mind, and do your homework.
What are the Basic Requirements?
Naturally, your needs will vary based on your type of work and how much time you plan to spend on it. Perhaps a smart phone will be enough, but consider how much of the following will be a necessity:
- Connectivity: Regardless of whether you just want to remain accessible to customers and your home base, or if you want to dig into some real work, Internet and cell phone connection are virtual necessities.
- Security: Not all Wi-Fi connections are safe. Find out how to add strong security protection to all your devices to avoid hacking and identity theft. Don’t leave home without this protection, and, if possible, assign transactions with major security requirements to someone at home.
- The right devices: Perhaps your smart phone can do it all, but do you really want to create documents or analyze spreadsheets on a tiny screen? Read up on what you need to work away from home, and make sure that you have everything that you will need.
- Real office space: If you need a bona-fide office to impress prospects, or even if you really need some of the amenities, there is a good chance that there is a nearby co-working facility. Temporary offices like these help mask the fact that you’re really on vacation while offering many of the conveniences of being at home.
Even Digital Nomads Need to Unplug Occasionally
Now that you have learned ways to escape your home base while continuing to keep your business running, don’t make the digital nomad life a hard-and-fast rule. Remember that everyone needs a little pure enjoyment from life. Find ways to manage your time so that you can really get away from it all.
Being a hard-working small business owner does not mean that you have no right to some fun. Leave your phone in your home base while you revel in the sun and the sand with your family. You’ll return to work with unexpected energy — and you won’t have to clean sand and water out of any devices.