Sure we live in a hyperconnected world full of FaceTime, Skype, Google Docs and productivity apps. But that doesn’t always translate into clear communication between two business partners, especially when if they happen to be traveling and are perhaps 3,000 miles apart.
As one of the co-founders of Invisible Sentinel (along with CEO Nick Siciliano), I spend countless hours 30,000 feet in the air with the fasten-seat-belts sign illuminated. It’s a vantage point that certainly gives me a lot of time to think and redefined the meaning of #WheelsUp. And when executives are in the middle of expanding a business, airline travel is not necessarily a bad thing.
Nonetheless when prospective clients range from vineyard enologists in California to dairy farmers in Wisconsin, travel can beome tricky. Schedules can fluctuate at a moment’s notice. But for those dedicated to growing a business, the mileage challenge can inspire more determination.
To be successful, keep the lines of communication open -- regardless of the time zone. Here are some tips I've picked up along the way:
Give clients the proper attention.
Provide clients the right tools and skills for them be successful. I refuse to “pitch and ditch,” meaning I'm constantly offering customer service throughout the client relationship. Ensuring that an existing client is confident about using a product is a higher priority for me than securing a new business lead.
Make problem solving the core function.
I've established a mental process for meeting client expectations. While passion has helped build my company, attaining sustainable growth requires a conscious effort to overdeliver and exceed stakeholders' expectations.
Nick and I have found a way to balance our leadership and address business challenges. Therefore when we travel tag team across the country, we remain centered by company virtues.
In addition, it's helpful to have a knowledgeable guru in our corner, someone who can advise us about potential areas of weakness or miscommunication -- before they happen. With this structure in place, it makes life on the road easier to digest. Progress isn’t impeded by spontaneous interruptions and this leads to higher levels of productivity.
Grab onto some handlebars.
Cross-country flights require an entrepreneur to use creativity to maximize the time for working. The first steps to good work engagement in the sky involve putting on headphones and establishing a Wi-Fi connection.
Immediately connecting to Salesforce.com lets me stay connected to companywide projects and initiatives: With an online connection, I can manage employees' activities and keep tabs on my co-founder’s progress. When a new sales lead arises, I’m already plugged in, engaged and vetting the potential for a deal. If action is urgently needed, I’m a mouse click away from pivoting and booking a flight to my next destination.
Without these handlebars to grab onto, I’d be in serious trouble.
The life of a chronic jetsetter isn’t glamorous, but the changing scenery can bring clarity. Nick and I believe there’s no better way to conduct business than with an extended palm and a smile. This approach lets us provide on-site guidance and have greater control over situations.
When Nick and I are both on the ground, we can then enter the same room and have a complete brain dump and frankly consider issues such as these: What are the most promising aspects of the business? Are there technology challenges and hurdles to contend with? How can we improve the company's growth process? There’s no substitute for transparency.
Then before anyone can say “red eye,” we’re back at opposing gates, but heading in the same direction, as the “now boarding” alert echoes.