Rhonda teamed up with Marriott and Visa to create the Small Business Smart Travel Guide, on which this blog post is based.
Travel is an investment—of your money and your time. Like any other business investment, you want to get the highest return for the money you spend. Fortunately, with just a little bit of planning, you can significantly increase the positive impact business travel can have on your bottom line.
Change your mindset, grow your business
One obstacle that keeps business owners from traveling is the belief that they must be on-premise to run their businesses. Can you entrust team members with more of the daily operations so you can focus more on business development? Can you adopt cloud solutions and apps that allow you to be a more effective mobile manager?
There are cloud applications for virtually every aspect of your business:
– Customer relationship management
– Team collaboration
– Document sharing
– Inventory management
– Money management
– Marketing automation
Do You Travel Only When Necessary? Responsive vs. Proactive Travel
There are two types of business trips — those you have to take and those that, although not pressing, can truly help you grow your business. Clearly, you travel when a good customer calls. But what about when they’re not calling? Avoid missing the chance to discuss other opportunities, make new sales, expand your contacts, and learn about what’s happening with their business. And, most important, strengthen the relationship.
Consider all those other opportunities you miss if you only travel out of immediate, pressing need. What about attending, presenting at, or exhibiting at industry conferences and trade shows? There’s a high concentration of potential customers, referral sources, vendors, and consultants at these events. And you’ll learn about new trends and get new ideas.
Challenge yourself to take more proactive trips. Think of how you can use travel to build your company.
Plan for bigger returns
Think about your travel plans for the next three to six months. How can you be more strategic and create opportunities for higher returns on your travel investment? What are the add-on opportunities at each of your destinations? The following seven questions will help you figure some of this out.
7 growth opportunity questions
As you create your travel plan for the next quarter, ask yourself and your team these questions.
1. Of your top 25 customers, who have you not seen in two years?
2. Which key customer have you never met? Which key vendor has never met you?
3. At which company do you have only one or two contacts?
4. Which customers have had staff changes?
5. Which of your second-tier customers could become top-tier?
6. At which industry event could you potentially meet five new customers, two new vendors, or one new investor?
7. Could you make a presentation or exhibit at an upcoming industry event?
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.