Over the last 10 years, my company Business Blueprint has achieved more than 4,000 percent business growth. During this time, I’ve also travelled for three to four months a year, sometimes for business but mostly to visit incredible locations with my family.
Many of my clients and peers ask me how I’m able to spend so much time away from the helm of my business. The truth is, it’s not something that happens by accident. It is as a result of careful planning.
The idea came about after I read the now famous book called The 4-Hour Week, by Timothy Ferriss. At first, I didn’t see how this could work. However, the book contained a lot of interesting ideas. The one that stood out was not waiting until age 65 to retire, but instead going on mini-retirements throughout your working life.
With this in mind, I sat down with my wife and we came up with a plan to do two months work from our Sydney office and then head overseas for a month. We thought we’d try the strategy for a year and see how it went.
After one year, our business had more than doubled. Needless to say, we kept going! Since then, we have visited over 76 countries and have stepped foot on all seven continents, including Antarctica.
As the founder of Business Blueprint, I have nobody to answer to, which makes it easier to put in my leave request forms! The challenge has been structuring my business so it will run while I’m not there.
The following are some of the approaches I’ve taken to be able to take breaks and captain my ship from afar.
Revise your business model
When you decide to go away for four months a year, you start making very different business decisions. You have to think about how you can streamline things, batch client acquisition, implement good systems and hire the right staff.
Outsourcing, procedure documents and a huge level of trust all come into play. You must surround yourself with a team you can rely on and empower them to make the best decisions in your absence.
The benefit of this is that at the end of the day, you are making your business stronger, and your team more robust and self-sufficient. Even if you don’t want to travel but are looking to spend more time with family or pursuing hobbies, developing systems which enable your business to run without you gives you the freedom to do so.
Thankfully I’m in an industry that isn’t life or death. Most issues can wait for 48 hours for a reply if I am somewhere remote. However, if there is a drama from a team member or a customer, people know they can always call my mobile. In a worst-case scenario, I’ll ask my EA to book a video call and I’ll show up and sort it out, the same way I do it back home.
I like to be available if and when my team needs me. They send messages through a smartphone app called Voxer, which is like a modern day walkie talkie. With this, you need an internet connection but not a phone line.
When I’m travelling, usually once the kids are asleep, I’ll take a walk and reply to messages from my team or partners. Even though I’m on the other side of the world, they all know I’m just a message away.
My advice is to embrace technology in a way that allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of your business. Have a functioning company intranet, cloud-based project management software, and a good numbers dashboard so you can keep track at a glance.
Maintain your relationships back home
After 10 years of being away for 4 months a year, my team are pretty used to communicating with me remotely. They know I’m still productive, I’m just in another location. Also, they know that while I’m travelling I am always thinking of ways to make things better.
When I am back home, I do make sure to give the team some extra face-to-face time. We do breakfast meetings every fortnight or we find times and ways to hang out socially so the relationships are kept strong.
The benefits of stepping away
One surprising benefit of taking time out from the coal face is the flood of ideas.
When we first go away it takes a few days to unwind and decompress. Then as we roam around, I can’t help but think how to solve problems back home.
Almost all of my best big ideas have come to me during my times away. In fact, one of my most recent ones came to me while I was meditating inside the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Before that, it was in the back of a taxi when I was on my way to visit Gallipoli.
I am also continually inspired by the people I meet throughout my travels. You can learn something from everyone and there is always a way to link it back to what you’re doing back home.
Can you be CEO from the road?
As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.” If you’re nervous about stepping away from your business, you’ll think of a hundred reasons why you can’t. However, if you really want to let go and hit the road with a little careful planning and the right team in place, you’ll always find a solution.
Start by putting the systems in place to allow you to be away for one week. From there, stretch it to two and before you know it you’ll be living the life of your dreams.
About Dale Beaumont
Dale Beaumont is an Award-Winning Technology Entrepreneur, International Speaker and Author of 16 best-selling books. Dale started his first business at 19 and has been building companies ever since. One of those companies is now a multi-million dollar enterprise, which has enabled Dale to become an investor and philanthropist, and to step foot in 70 countries. Dale has been featured in Forbes Magazine, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Gizmodo and GQ, to name a few. In 2009, Dale launched Business Blueprint, an education company designed to help fellow entrepreneurs build the business of their dreams. Seven years later Dale has personally trained over 15,000 people and produced over 750 business training videos.