For many years, I counseled travel business owners from the comfort of my corporate office. I didn’t have to worry about paying the bills, I doled out advice and collected my salary. That all changed three years ago when I made the leap back into home-based business ownership. It was baptism by fire! I had to adapt rather quickly. Five things come to mind that helped me to thrive in this environment.
1. Manage financial risk
In the corporate world, risk management is about minimizing the negative impact of financial and managerial decisions. Most are made by committee or die a slow death from analysis paralysis. In my new world, as Founder & Chief Commode Cleaner, that risk translates into overhead. I have learned to ask myself, “Is this an investment or an expense, and more importantly – will I use it?” Many of the tools are available via monthly subscription such as Office 365, Go-to-Webinar, and Clientbase. These costs add up quickly! It is easy to get caught up in the “30 day free trial” sales pitches. Salesforce.com in particular will chase you down like a rabid dog. I consider the essential tools and coaching to which I subscribe to be a sound investment, but out of control monthly overhead is not a risk worth taking.
2. Setting boundaries
When I sold my travel business, I had a non-compete and left the industry for a while. I went to work for a national builder selling new homes. I was the guy sitting in the model home in a large master planned community in Houston Texas. Tuesday & Wednesday was my version of what the rest of the world called a weekend. Since most buyers tended to contact me during their working hours, my phone would ring off the hook on my days off. It was during this period that I learned the concept of “My Time / Your Time.” In fact, David Weekley Homes taught the concept to all employees to help prevent burn out. Guess what, it works! If you set the boundaries with your clients in the beginning, they will, for the most part, respect them. Set business hours and make sure not just your clients know, but also your family. As we all know, since we don’t “go to work”, we aren’t really working, right? Make sure your spouse and other family members respect your working time instead of sending you on a Costco run.
3. Create your own space
For many years, I traveled so much that I literally worked out of my briefcase. I could set up shop anywhere. That is until I decided to make the jump back to home-based entrepreneur. I just assumed that I could work from our dining room table. I quickly learned that my wife’s expectation and mine were slightly askew. She made it clear, I had to gather up my things at the end of the day and bring them back out each morning after she left. That didn’t work for me, so she set up a desk in the only unoccupied space in the house – our “Slashy” room. This large space operates as a guest room, laundry room, and now office. I was spending a lot of time in the garage on phone calls – so clients would not hear the dogs bark every time a squirrel taunted them. I liked the garage, the air is fresh, it was my space, so I moved in. Now I summer in my “Garoffice” and winter in the “Slashy” room – everyone is happy!
4. Get out of the house!
I don’t know about you, but I can only take so much staring at the computer. I was going nuts, so I started doing a couple of things. I go for a 45 minute walk every day. This keeps the blood flowing and the pounds off. I also try to work from my local coffee shop one day a week. The energy I get just from being around people is huge. The weekly visits also help me keep my Starbucks Gold Card status which makes it affordable because I get free refills on coffee & tea!
5. Build a great team
I don’t care who you are—no one succeeds by themselves. I consciously surround myself with a team of trusted colleagues and even (yes) competitors, as well as a paid business coach. My wife is in the industry and one of the smartest people I know. She & my team help me recognize opportunities and are instrumental in my decision-making process. Even good business advisers need a good coach. Elite athletes and business people employ coaches, so it makes sense for us to do the same. My coach holds me accountable for executing action plans and staying focused on the mission of my company. This is one of my best investments and one of the main reasons for the successful growth of my business.
Dan Chappelle is a professional business advisor and best-selling author. His training and consulting firm helps develop sales focused business leaders and entrepreneurs in the travel and tourism industry.
His book, Get Your S.H.I.P. Together: The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Sales, is available on Amazon.com. For information on the Wealthy Travel Agent Academy’s business transformation programs, visit: www.DanChappelle.com