As an entrepreneur who travels frequently, I know all too well the anxiety of leaving my business behind. But I also know the feeling of elation I get when I explore new worlds.
My travels have made me a better entrepreneur and leader, and while not everyone has this insatiable itch to wander the world, I believe every entrepreneur could benefit from voyaging abroad and experiencing new things. In fact, 94 percent of business leaders say they’re more successful because of their travels.
That said, while leaders are flying to a different continent, their team will be making key decisions without their oversight.
This can be scary, especially for the type-A leader -- but it is manageable. If you’re looking for this kind of challenge, here are a few tips to keep your business running smoothly:
1. Let go of control.
At some point in your entrepreneurial journey, you’ve probably said, “If I want something done right, I have to do it myself!” Almost all entrepreneurs have. However, this mentality won’t give you the freedom you need to travel. You need to delegate.
If you struggle with delegation, don’t worry -- you’re not alone. Approximately half of all companies are in the same boat. But I’ve found the real trick to feel confident about delegation is to hire people with complementary skill sets to your own. That way, you won’t be able to jump in on their work, because you can’t actually do their work.
2. Hire employees who don’t need you.
Studies have shown -- and this surprises no one -- that extrinsic motivation is a horrible method by which to drive behavior. Do you really want employees who only work hard when you dangle a carrot in front of their faces and require a firm pat on the back afterward? Instead, hire a self-sufficient manager to anchor the ship while you’re gone, and surround this individual with people who don’t need constant validation. Under the right leadership, self-motivated employees won’t kick back and relax the second you step out of the office, which means productivity won’t plummet while you’re off running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.
3. Establish organization modes that work for your team.
When I first started traveling, I had to find ways to stay connected with my team. We’ve tried various things and are now having weekly Skype calls to check in and stay up to date on the happenings within the company. Some companies benefit by incorporating project management software, enabling them to keep tabs on projects quickly and easily at any time of day. Incredible tools such as Trello, Pivotal Tracker, Basecamp and Podio have popped up to offer incredibly robust project-management features fit for any traveling entrepreneur.
The desire to travel can be strong -- even overwhelming at times. If you feel torn between chasing down your dream business and mapping unchartered territory, hear this: You don’t have to choose just one.
Setting my team up to handle the day-to-day tasks while I lead from afar has given me much more time to seek new creative enterprises, investments and entrepreneurial ideas. When I return home, I feel inspired, energized and ready to jump back into the day-to-day.
Build a flexible team that’s empowered to succeed in your absence, and find the right organizational tools that keep you in the loop. Oh, and buy yourself a good backpack.