Working Abroad – Suck it up

There are some things you need to think about if your business travels.  For the past three years when I take students to London, I’ve been taking my business with me. I have the best of intentions when I leave – I promise clients I will take care of their projects while I’m away and that the only thing they will miss is face-to-face contact.

I make good on the promise, but it is not easy, and sometimes it’s expensive.  It’s the price of being mobile.  Here are some things to think about and some possible solutions.

1.  You may not be able to access some sites.  The problem is that your internet service provider in another country may not readily recognize some sites as secure and may block some types of sites.  The only work around you have is to leave and find another location. I could access my server in some places while I was in London, but others were not so giving.  I simply found a coffee shop that allowed me to access my server and pushed on.  Cost = time. Solution = suck it up.

2.  Your mobile phone is expensive abroad.  I actually turn off my data completely to keep from getting surprise bills when I get home.  While I can’t do much about the phone bill, I can let my clients know that I will give them a call back using my Skype credit or through mobile apps like Viber that will allow phone calls over wifi.  It takes a little planning, but most of these options are free or low cost.  I purchased $10 worth of Skype credit while I was in London and spoke to my family and clients the entire time I was there without purchasing more credit.  Cost = $10. Solution = suck it up.

3. I don’t have access to a lot of my files.  I do have to transfer a lot of information to my dropbox before I go. Again, it’s all about planning.  I don’t want to constantly ask my clients to send me their logos or their important pictures while I’m away.  I load most of my original pictures to Flickr so that I can access them and email them easily.  I had a client this year who asked me to send before-and-after shots I took of a home renovation.  The last thing I want to tell my client-turned-friend is that I can’t help him until I get home.  He’s probably trying to close a deal, and he depends on me! Cost = time and about $30 to Flickr per year.  Solution = suck it up.

It’s all about planning.  While costs with working abroad can be alleviated, you do often encounter issues that will cost a couple of bucks.  My suggestion is to ensure that you have google-ability, and that’s pretty much all.  If you have problems, make sure you are able to look up a solution and make things happen.  The one thing that you DO NOT want is to be stuck without wifi access.  Find it before you get there, and if all else fails, ask the Google.

Remember that the benefits outweigh the costs, and if you have to suck up a couple of costly errors when traveling, so be it.  You will figure out the work-around.  The solution is to understand and prepare for the business problems that are associated with getting on that aircraft.  You will be in another country and gaining tons of experiences and ideas that you will bring back to your business, but you may have to invest a little cash in your learning curve.

The World is your Wide Web! Enjoy!