As an entrepreneur who travels frequently, I know all too well the anxiety of leaving my business behind. 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.
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. Communicate clearly and often When working internationally, communication is key. It’s hard enough to manage employees within your building, but even more difficult when those employees are several time zones ahead of you. Their work day is winding down just as yours is getting started.
2. 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.
3. Hire employees who don’t need you. Studies have shown 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.
4. 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 internal calls to check in and stay up to date on the happenings within the company.
We build business process around customer satisfaction and project completion, we defined our own business rule in terms of approval, review and etc.
We also benefit by incorporating our own ERP/ Project Management Tools, enabling us to keep tabs on projects quickly and easily at any time of 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.
5. Bridge the distance with technology. A personal connection is important while managing an international team and the right technology helps. Sharing technology, shared workplaces and cloud storage solutions make working remotely a seamless process.
Mobility is also key to ensuring deadlines are met when working internationally because of the time difference. Staying organized is a linchpin to a successful international business.