Well, I’ve finally put my mouth where my money is and done it – our family relocated to France for the month of July – our busiest work month. If your business uses a 100% CLOUD accounting product such as Xero and other cloud based solutions, there is no reason why as a small business owner you could not do the same thing! We did a home exchange with a French Family, a picture of us all is on your left hand side.
The best tip I can give you is to get lots of lots of data arranged prior to departure. It is hard to know where, and how reliable WiFi internet will be in your destination. We joined the Vodafone roaming plan here in Australia – which gives you the same plan overseas as you have at home for a one off charge of $5 a day per phone that is accessing the internet. I have a 10 gig plan a month, and I then bought an extra data boost to my plan of 40 Gigs for $120. So that gave me a total of 50Gig to access from the French networks, directly from my phone.
I arranged for a few of my Bookkeeping peers to be available to review work and be available for my staff to ask questions to – as the time zones were really bad – 8 hours out – I was going to bed as our staff started work for the day.
All of the places that we stayed had WiFi available, but we found the connections sometimes to be unreliable – it is impossible to know when you are moving around and using AirBNB accommodation, so the data on the phone was a lifesaver. The phone connection, most places was very good – at least 3 out of five for signal strength and usually 3G or 4G. But there were some remote places – on the highway between destinations mostly, where there was no service at all.
I took all my client files with me on Dropbox, but I turned off syncing while I was away. I was too nervous that the upload/download would prove to be too data hungry. I would sync up the files that I needed.
I let all of our clients know, prior to departure, that I would be away for a month, but would be accessible if needed. Most clients were very respectful of this, and checked in only for quick questions or tasks that would not wait until my return.
Thanks to Vodafone, I could make and receive unlimited phone calls to Australia, but due to the time change I rarely needed to take any phone calls. I put the Do Not Disturb function on my iPhone so it would not ring/buzz at night even if a phone call was received.
Most days I found I had to work about 2 hours a day, far less than I was anticipating. This was mostly to answer questions from clients, allocate and review work, and keep on top of any urgent emails.
Xero was very impressive, diligently letting me know each time a file had been accessed from a new country and IP address, I was impressed with the security features! I used Receipt Bank a fair bit to beam in pictures of dockets of officially tax deductible transactions as well! Timely did a great job blocking my calendar and filling it up with back to back appointments for my first week back. I used Skype a few times to connect with clients and do a screen share to fix problems that I needed a visual on.
I took my Surface Pro and iPhone 6+ with me – nice and compact and easy to travel around with. We also took a modem over with us to create a Wifi signal when needed that all devices could access – this proved to be very helpful as the home that we stayed in mostly had Ethernet, but not a Wifi connection.
I did get caught out once when we travelled to Switzerland for a few days – I had not realized that they have a different power supply to France. As we didn’t pack any adaptors, I was unable to charge my computer for the duration. Oops!
So, in summary, working from the Cloud has never been easier. There is no reason why you, as a small business owner, cannot travel to your dream location and keep your business ticking along and clients happy.
Good luck – I hope you can tick a few off your bucket list! We would be happy to meet with you and discuss how you can make this happen by ensuring your business is CLOUD READY for 2017!