What to Do when You Return from a Small Business Trip
Rhonda teamed up with Marriott and Visa to create the Smart Small Business Travel Guide, on which this blog post is based.
Before you go on a business trip, allow for thoughtful planning to help you make the most of your travel. (See my previous post to get started.) With a plan in place, you’ll have an easier time ensuring that you’re productive and meeting your goals while you’re away.
But in some ways, the most important part of your trip happens when you return. You’ll probably have generated many leads, sales, and ideas—now it’s time to follow-up.
Your first inclination when you get back to the office is to jump right in to tackle anything that’s accumulated while you’ve been away. Wait! Schedule an hour or two—or even a day—just for trip follow-up. Capture the successes you’ve achieved from your trip and outline your next steps.
Act fast! You want to contact all leads as quickly as possible. They’re busy, and it’s easy for them to forget about you. And if you collected a pile of business cards, enter all of those names into your database now.
Fulfill your promises. If you told a customer or prospect you’d send them something on your return to the office, make sure you do that the first day you get back.
Brief your team. Assembling everyone for a trip update is more efficient than repeating yourself in emails, one-on-ones, and so on. Share what inspired you. Use the opportunity to be strategic.
Create a master trip follow-up document. Keep a running list of all the things you want to or need to follow up with. Share this with your team. You may also want to create a visual reminder for ideas you generated on your trip so you don’t forget about them. In my office, to keep new ideas in the forefront, we write them on giant Post-It Notes that we stick to the wall.
Delegate. You don’t have to do everything yourself when you return. Enlist and engage your staff to help with the follow-up items.
Evaluate what worked and what didn’t. You want to continually improve your travel savviness. Did you make appointments too late, too close together, or too short? Did your pitch work? Did you need more time or an extra day at your destination to accomplish what you hoped you would?
Keep the momentum going. I’m always more excited about my business when I get back from a trip than I was when I left. Travel sparks new ideas for me and regenerates my ambition. It’s one of the biggest business benefits I get from travel. Capture those new ideas and figure out which ones you can best execute on.
Recognized as one of the foremost experts on small business, Rhonda Abrams writes USA Today’s small business column and is the author of 19 books on entrepreneurship. Rhonda’s books have been translated into over 30 languages, and adopted by more than 1,000 business schools. Her books include the bestselling business plan guide in the U.S.: Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies.