Last week I participated in an Intuit webinar, as part of their awesome QuickBooks Group. I spoke about the technology tools you can use to get away from your business and enjoy some vacation time. My top tips include:
- Have a good management team in place
- Empower employees
- Enable remote access to files (HP Upline, Gotomypc, Logmein and a range of intranets such as WebOffice and HyperOffice can help)
- Be able to access all communication options (telephone, fax, email) remotely. Services such as Gotvmail, VirtualPBX and others can help. Talk to your email host about giving you “IMAP” access to email and not “POP”. IMAP email means that if you create folders or delete email remotely, when you get back to your office those changes are reflected in your “main computer”.
QuickBooks customer Tom McGlynn, owner of Focus-N-Fly, a Burlingame, Calif.-based personal fitness training company, has found a way to manage his business remotely when traveling. Rather than being confined to his home office this summer, McGlynn plans to travel around the U.S. to coach marathon runners, attend races and take some time to go fishing and perfect his golf swing – all while running his business.
Go mobile: Laptop computers with wireless adapters keep you connected wherever you go. McGlynn tracks his entire business and sends invoices from free wireless connections via stores, cafés and the airport. For more control, subscribe to mobile broadband through your cell phone carrier. You can get online anywhere there’s coverage – just like with your cell phone.
Manage your finances online: QuickBooks Online business software is a handy way to keep track of your finances anywhere, anytime — especially while traveling. McGlynn uses it to create and send professional-looking invoices via e-mail and easily track his cash flow. If you don’t use QuickBooks, Microsoft and Sage’s accounting programs are also accessible online. If you are not doing online banking – it’s time to do so!
Stay in touch: Get a smartphone. More than a cell phone, it allows you to communicate instantly with customers and employees via phone, e-mail and text messages. It can also act like a personal assistant and helps McGlynn easily make restaurant reservations or locate a golf course. You can even see how your business is doing — QuickBooks Online lets you view your finances from your iPhone.
Reduce paperwork: Replacing that old copy machine with an all-in-one photocopier, fax and scanner puts an end to sending paperwork via snail mail. If you have employees, it means they can scan documents and send them to you via e-mail.
Outsource: Look at ways you can outsource specific business management tasks. Hire a virtual or local assistant to help with administrative tasks or find a writer to write copy for your Web site. It can also include working with another business owner to trade off covering for each other’s business when traveling. McGlynn has an assistant coach who he relies on to cover his practices when he is on vacation.