My companies works with clients across the country and, as such, we do quite a bit of business travel. We’ve picked up some good tips along the way, and wanted to share them here to help you in your business travel.
Successful business travel, especially for a small business owner, is all about preparation. Leaving the office isn’t easy, but it’s more difficult for someone who is running a small business. Small business owners and managers are often forced to be the jack-of-all-trades in the office and are constantly changing tactics to get things done. With a little planning, you can have a productive trip and keep things rolling at the home office, while you’re away.
1) Leverage Existing Relationships
Running a small business means juggling a lot of responsibilities. Examine the relationships you’ve already established and see where you can take advantage to simplify your life. For example, when you apply for an American Express card, you’re also opening a door to a wealth of resources for your small business to take advantage of. Instead of micromanaging your travel arrangements you can utilize America Express Global Business Travel. They boast over two thousand service locations worldwide and best in class prices on airfare, car rental and hotel.
Can you leverage trade services for things like hotel rooms, rental cars or workspaces? A penny saved might not exactly be a penny earned, but it is a penny that can be invested more wisely toward the future success of your business.
2) Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst
A business trip has a lot of moving parts. Transportation, lodging, meetings and people all have to be planned well in order to have a successful trip. Plan to arrive early enough that secondary and tertiary transportation plans can be implemented in the case of delay or cancelation. If you arrive early, you can use the extra time to find a place to relax, get your thoughts in order and check your email or get yourself acquainted with your surroundings.
3) Stay Connected
Since this is a business trip, you will want to stay connected to the office. As a small business owner, it’s difficult to take yourself offline, even for a personal vacation. Technology exists to make it easy to stay in touch with your home office. So use it. If you have an important presentation to make, of course you’ll want it on a hard drive or USB key, but keep it on a Drop Box server, too. If your computer fails or isn’t compatible with a projector or monitor, you can simply download it to another device. If an employee needs you to look at a project, you can download it instead of hoping it gets through an email firewall.
4) Keep Good Records
Small business owners are notoriously easy prey for IRS audits. Co-mingling personal and business expenses is easy to do and a fantastic way to be put under the microscope when it comes time to file your taxes. Many travel expenses can be partially or wholly written off. Consult an accountant or use resources like IRS.gov or Sba.gov to find out what you can legally and ethically write off and how to document it correctly.