Time Out: When Business Takes You Away from the Office
I have just recently returned from being "on tour" with Intuit, the software creator of our favourite accounting software QuickBooks Online. I was invited along with Ian (the Boss/Dad) to present as part of a roadshow showcasing not only QuickBooks Online but a number of other software Applications called "Add-ons". It was a great privilege to present in front of our industry peers who were able to listen to how our business has grown and developed over the years utilising Cloud Technology.
The roadshow saw us visiting Cairns, Townsville, Toowoomba, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, chatting to small business owners, fellow Bookkeepers and Accountants. Being on the road is a tricky time as I am sure many business owners can attest too. Just because you are not physically in the office, doesn't mean that work stops. It is important to escape the office, whether it is for time out or attending workshops/courses. You do yourself no favours if you have not had a break (there is science around a minimum of 10 days) and if you are lucky enough to have a course to travel to – even better. Here are my tips for how to best handle travelling, so you can maximise the time spent out of your office.
Email and Smartphones mean a lot (read A LOT!) more access and with that, expectation. Regardless of whether you will be 100% available or not – set an "Out of Office" auto-response on your email, stating that you are going to be having intermittent availability as you are currently away. This helps set expectations and provides you with some flexibility to respond when you are able too.
Update your Social Media! Let your clients know what you are up to, especially if it is work or training related. It highlights that you are investing in your business which reassures your clients that they are in the best hands in the industry. Engaging with your clients is becoming more and more important as we have less and less "face time" as technology continually advances.
Be picky with your hotel. Saving $40 might seem like a good idea when you are booking, but how much does a bad night sleep cost? In most cases you pay for what you get. I'm not saying you need to have a 5 Star budget, just do a little research before you stay at El Cheapo. What is the Wi-Fi like? Is there parking or taxi nearby? You get the idea.
Record your expenses! Travel expenses are my favourite kind of expenses. If I have to spend money on anything, it might as well be business travel. Utilising the QuickBooks Online App you can literally take a picture of your receipt (for anything – coffee, taxi) and code the expense there and then. If you want to get really efficient you can utilise the likes of Receipt Bank, which even assist with automatically coding of the transaction (super easy – really cool).
Finally, my number one tip for travelling: enjoy it. Be present. Forget (as best you can) about the might/if/maybe's of what is happening back in the office and really engage. There is no point in being away from the office and not making the most of it. After all by engaging 100% you are not only benefiting yourself and your business but most importantly your clients.(Originally published DUO Magazine April 2016)