Five years ago, my parents sold their business, their house and everything they owned and bought an RV. To date, they’re still traveling around (and they’ve become park rangers)! I'm in awe of their lifestyle, in terms of how they can just pack up and go wherever they want while still retaining the comfort and familiarity of their “home” inside their RV. So, my husband and I decided that when we retired, that’s what we’d do, too.
Only, a small problem: Being 28 years old, we’re not even close to retirement.
In fact, I'm doing my career full-time, having run my business, Headbands of Hope for seven years now. When I started traveling a lot for speaking engagements, I built out a strong team and started delegating tasks so I could do more of the creative work I love while also being able to travel for gigs. Little did I know, I was slowly preparing myself and my team for my constant travel on the road.
One March morning last year, my husband and I decided that “one day” didn't exist so we started planning how we were going to live in an Airstream full-time. After 10 months of planning, we bought a 27’ Flying Cloud, leased out our place and put our stuff in storage and hit the open road.
Being mobile has not only been great for my speaking engagements and Headbands of Hope donations at children’s hospitals, it has been surprisingly easy to run my company from the road. If anything, I believe I’ve become a better leader by instilling responsibility in my team and creativity, because of my need to go into airplane mode more often.
Here are five steps I've taken to help me run my business from the road.
Step One: Staying Connected with Airstream Connected
One of the first purchases we made was an installation of Airstream Connected. This service basically turns your Airstream into a Wi-Fi network. As a result, I’ve been able to look outside my window at the Rocky Mountains while also sending emails. Airstream Connected has truly allowed me to run my business from so many beautiful places without missing a beat! Video calls are clear, I can download things I need, and even works when we’re driving in the car. As my husband drives, I can be in the front seat working because the service reaches perfectly.
As I was writing my book, Chasing the Bright Side, I needed to do research, use Google Drive and communicate with my publisher, Harper Collins. Airstream Connected really allowed me to meet all of my deadlines.
Airstream Connected has also allowed us to use our Apple TV when we need a break from the wilderness scenery.
Step Two: Hire a Virtual Assistant
Before I left, I started working with a virtual assistant to manage my inbox and calendar. I can’t tell you what a game-changer it is to have someone in your inbox responding to things she can, forwarding the things she can't do to the appropriate people and starring anything she needs help with. One of my biggest issues is being addicted to email, so hiring a VA really helped me step away from it because I know if there’s something urgent, she’ll tell me.
Step Three: Drop Into Co-Working Spaces
As I’m sure you’ve seen, WeWork is popping up everywhere. With a global pass, you can pop into any WeWork location to attend to urgent tasks. This has been great when I’m near a major city and need a full day of strong Wi-Fi (and strong coffee). If you don’t want to commit to a global pass yourself, you can always buy day passes at various coworking spaces across the country.
Step Four: Be “stingy” With Your Time
Before I moved into the Airstream, I would say "yes" to anyone who wanted to pick my brain for 15 to 30 minutes. But when you’re on the road, scheduling meetings can be challenging because you want to make sure you’re within cell service and have Wi-Fi, not to mention the fact that you might want to go on a hike when important calls are coming in during the day.
I didn’t realize how much those meetings were time-robbers for me. Now, I can get into work mode and have a few hours of uninterrupted time, then go exploring. When I was at home, it used to take me an entire day to do the same amount of work because I was always stepping away for a call or a meeting.
So it’s okay to say "no" or pass on an exploratory call that doesn’t have a set purpose. However, what I’ve found helpful for the meetings I do want to have is scheduling them back to back in one day. That way, you can head into town and knock them all out instead of having them spread over the week and cut into your days.
Step Five: Have Standing Meetings With Your Team
Instead of exchanging a ton of emails, I have a Google Doc where I can enter things I want to discuss, then address them in my standing meeting. My entire team has a monthly standing meeting, and I have a weekly standing with one team member. What might take 20 emails and lots of typing can be discussed in one meeting with your team. Just keep a running document so you can write down all your ideas and not forget them.
One of my biggest concerns when we moved into the Airstream and hit the road full-time was wondering if my business would suffer. In fact, it has been quite the opposite! With Airstream Connected I can continue to stay on top of my business while also exploring the country. What better combo than that?
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