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It’s such an exciting part of your business, when you are building your brand outwards, and making all of those little trips for conferences, meetings, expos, and the feeling finally hits home, “I’ve made it! I’m an entrepreneur!” And you can’t argue with this feeling, it’s pretty exciting to begin with, when you’re heading to the airport, hiring cars and zigzagging around so much. But when you travel so much to promote your business, and you’re expanding ever further, into other countries and territories, what do you need to be aware of?
We can get carried away, a bottle of wine here, room service there, and before you know it you have run up quite a lot of expenses. The thought can be that it’s all worth it, it’s for the benefit of the business in the long run, and these expenses you’ll be able to claim back. This is true, albeit to an extent, but at such an important time where every penny counts, and you get caught up in the gaudiness of the occasions, perhaps you are networking with entrepreneurs that have been in the game for way longer than you, and have more money to throw around, the temptation can be to match them, penny for penny. Beware, because when you come back from these business trips, you might find yourself out of pocket, and this is when you start to dip into the petty cash to fund these so-called “necessary” expenses. By all means, if it’s pertinent to the progression of the product and the company, do it. But if you are being gregarious for the sake of it, it’s going to swing around and bite you where it hurts, your bank account.
What we get carried away with at this point is that we are imposing our brand, ethos, and approach to doing business on other territories. But doing business with other countries is about showing them how we can fit in with their local customs. We have to undertake the necessary research before we go far and wide. It’s not just about money making; we have to see if our business model is suitable, or if we have to make considerable changes for it to travel. And when we are dealing with local rules, regulations, and, most importantly, laws, we can’t just take our business model and automatically throw it into a different culture. There will be clashes, and when it’s just you, and your back is against the wall, in any foreign country, especially one where you don’t know the customs, or you don’t even speak the language, you are at a major disadvantage. The best way to prepare for global outreach in this sense is to have someone by your side that can help you deal with the customs, and help you navigate the minutiae of every contract. Laws differ in every country and it will benefit you to have contact with a Spanish speaking injury law firm, a German speaking patent lawyer, French speaking employment lawyer, and the list goes on! As you are building your business outwards, language is one of the biggest barriers. You have to show willing, and language is one of the best ways, in addition to customers and an appreciation of other cultures. It’s all well and good going to these places to show that we are important, but if we go there and completely disrespect everything, it’s all in vain.
You need to do this, or you may as well go home. Communication is easier now than it ever was thanks to the improving technology, so we can set up conference calls, Skype meetings, web chats, and the like. But we have to show willing, and when we’re traveling to show our intent, this means that we’ve got to put in more effort, which is very difficult when it’s just you, or a small team. To go big, preparation is vital, but when you are building this business with your own two hands, it can feel like you’re on your own. A support network is one of those overstated essentials, because in this state of permanent flux, living in hotels and out of suitcases, heading across different time zones, these efforts can be the undoing of us, physically and mentally. When it comes to making these pitches, the excitement of traveling soon gives way to a feeling of inertia. The jet lag creeps up on us, and the magnitude of keeping all of these plates spinning will get on top of us. This is why, before you undertake any mass outreach, you have to have a team to support you. Not just in a professional sense, but emotionally as well. Many entrepreneurs go it alone, and the notion of being “on the road” can be too much to bear. After approximately 2 weeks of living in hotels, and making friendships that last approximately 7 hours, the loner lifestyle looms large. You have to be aware before you go into these things, that it can wear you down, and the best preparation is a healthy mind and body. When you think that entrepreneurs in one base can struggle with the weight of their tasks, those that are traveling non-stop have so much more to deal with, externally and internally.
Traveling to promote your business is like being a traveling salesman; it’s isolating, but it can also be invigorating, just as long as you go into it with the right attitude. Yes, you’re there to make your mark, and this is incredibly exciting, but this never-ending roller coaster of traversing the world is exhausting. You have to find the right balance, especially if you have loved ones involved, and while this is where the work-life balance dilemma always crops up, you feel that traveling here, there, and everywhere is the most important thing. But what happens when you start to miss important things at home? You may look back and see that you’ve been doing this for many years, and this has become normal. Yes, traveling to promote your business is exciting, but you need to figure out what it does to you, good and bad.
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