Those who don’t travel for work often think the concept sounds like a dream scenario.
But small business owners who regularly travel to meet potential suppliers, clients or partners know that the reality isn’t as dreamy as it sounds.
Often business travel consists of early morning or late night journeys, with little time to explore beyond the inside of your hotel room or client’s office.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. In one of 2019’s travel trends that has been dubbed ‘b-leisure’, more small business owners are using the opportunity presented by work trips to combine business and leisure. According to an article on Forbes, 87% of business travelers have combined business and leisure on the same trip.
In fact, just as many small business owners embrace the 80:20 rule for productivity, time management or client management, some are now applying Pareto’s principle to business travel, where 80% of the trip is used for leisure and 20% is focused on work.
Here’s why, and how you can do the same.
Why combine business with leisure
Those who’ve adopted the 80:20 strategy cite improved work-life balance, enhanced relationships with family and friends, and increased personal productivity.
There are a few more reasons why it makes sense to add some leisure to your work travel, too.
It makes it easier to take a holiday
Many small business owners are apprehensive about taking time off. The thought of not being present with the team or not staying on top of your emails can make holidays more stressful than relaxing. But if you’re open to working a little each day, the stress of being disconnected or work piling up can subside, allowing you to better unwind for the remainder of the day.
A recent study revealed that 64% of employees would be open to working a little while on a holiday, if it meant they could take more annual leave or go on more trips. Small business owners were even more enthusiastic, with 70% saying they would do so. Evidently, spending 20% of your trip working feels like a small price to pay if you get to spend 80% enjoying everything else the location has to offer. And if you have an interstate or international business meeting coming up, that could be the perfect time to test the waters for yourself.
Remote working is becoming more popular among employees too
With employees increasingly demanding flexibility in their work schedules, it’s likely you’ll need to get used to relinquishing control and increasing trust by allowing employees to work from home every now and then.
With the right internal processes in place, you can apply the same flexibility to your own work schedule with minimal impact on your team communication.
As the need to visit the office reduces, reliance on business communication tools like Slack or Zoom increases, making it easy to stay in touch with team members from wherever you are.
The increasing normalcy of remote working means taking a couple of days either side of your work meeting to work from the city you’re visiting is as unlikely to have your employees batting an eyelid as it is to interrupt your work.
Increased local business intelligence
Staying a little longer after your business trips means you get more opportunities to immerse yourself in local life, which apart from being fun, is vital for understanding the market you’re working in. Whether you’re engaging with clients or selling to customers interstate or internationally, spending more time on the ground allows greater scope for increasing relevant business knowledge.
Plus you’ll have time to scope out more local businesses to cooperate with or take part in networking opportunities—things you mightn’t usually feel justify staying a few extra days.
Money savings mean you can get more out of your holiday
An obvious benefit is that you get to make the most of those airfares the business is paying for to tack on a few days of travel time, saving you a bunch or allowing you to spend a little more on your local activities.
Tips for combining leisure with travel as a small business owner
If you’re looking to combine work and leisure on your next trip, here are some tips to help.
Smarter annual leave strategies
If you want to take a couple of days off on either side of your work trip, consider booking your travel around public holidays so you can get even more time to explore with minimal impact on your business.
For example, in Australia this year, Easter and ANZAC Day fall close together, so if you book your business meetings in on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday in the week of April 22nd, you can get 10 days away without needing to take any time off work.
Taking time to plan your year out in advance will reveal many more of these opportunities to maximise your time away.
Embrace working remotely
Luckily for modern business owners, extending your business trip so you get to spend more time in a place doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to take time off work. With remote working becoming more of a norm, you can spend a day working in a local cafe and still have the evenings available to explore.
In order to make this work I’d recommend:
- Doing your research to find a location with perfect WiFi and a comfortable environment, so you don’t waste time moving from place to place when you need to work. Usually searching for ‘good WiFi’ amongst TripAdvisor comments is a reasonable place to start. Googling ‘best cafes for digital nomads in X’ also works for locations that are more known for their expat populations.
- Planning out your trip in advance. Think about what you want to do in the location so that you can arrange your work time appropriately. Starting work early for a week is worth it if you get to spend the afternoon visiting museums or swimming at the beach.
Choose the right travel times
If you plan on working when you land, it’s important to consider when is the best time to fly. It’s tempting to travel through the night so you can arrive during working hours, but it’s really not worth it if you’re going to be a zombie when you get there.
Unless you’re particularly good at sleeping on planes, traveling during the day can actually be a great time to get work done. With a little preparation (for example, switching your Google Docs or Gmail to offline mode), you can get all your emails responded to, or big chunks of work completed with no distractions at all.
Join business travel programs
If you sign up for business travel programs, you’ll quickly rack up miles which means you can access the business class lounge or be able to afford to upgrade your flights – both of which will allow you to maximise your working time during your travel rather than after you’ve landed in the place you want to explore.
Make more time for leisure
93 percent of SMBs believe taking annual leave helps avoid burn out at work. As a small business owner, it’s easy to get consumed by all things business and let leisure time fall by the wayside, but with a few small tweaks of your business travel plans, you can make more space for the fun side of travel in your schedule.
With most small business owners also acknowledging that taking a holiday is an investment in personal well-being and essential to maintaining a good work-life balance, a little more leisure time is sure to have you returning to work rejuvenated and ready to hustle.