Vacationing as a consultant

It’s May. I hit the beach this weekend and it was packed! It was hard to find a place to sit. The warm sand – a rarity in Vancouver at this time of year – felt really good. And it got me thinking about how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place, with beaches minutes from my home.

My career has taken me on many trips. Over the years, I’ve travelled to many countries, states and provinces. Increasingly, I look for ways to combine business with pleasure. I choose business events and meetings in places I already want to visit, so that I can satisfy my tourism bug at the same time.

Of course, being self employed, I often take work with me when I go on vacation. A good Wifi connection is paramount. But accessories, such as a laptop and smart phone help too. I like to check that Wifi and a good desk are included in the room.

No matter whether it’s for business or pleasure, I bring along a stack of business cards. I’ve made some great connections on trips over the years and I think that, anytime you make real connections with people, there’s a great opportunity to keep in touch.

Oh, and be sure to set up a roaming package for your phone. That little business trip to San Jose in February cost me about $160 in phone call fees. Ouch. I’ll be smarter next time.

What are your consulting vacation trip tips? (Try saying that fast!)

admin says:

Oh, I absolutely advocate restful vacations. However, one of the things I love about running my own show is that I can wrap a vacation into the business trip. I used to do this when I had a day job, too — I’d offer to do a Saturday stayover, which saved the company a huge amount of money and gave me time to explore some great tourist spots.

I think, though, that, by planning ahead, we can find creative ways to turn business trips into vacations or perhaps find the odd write off to offset a vacation splurge. For example, I know some self employed people who have offered to teach a course at a resort, do a lecture on a ship or write up an event in exchange for a free trip. Similarly, I know a business owner who finds time to go to a networking event here in the city when she comes to visit her adult kids. Those are just a few examples. But I still think getting away from it all a couple of times a year is a good idea!

Iain says:

Andrea,

The best consulting firms recognize that their people are their most important assets and invest in them. They work to ensure that their employees get a certain amount of professional development and training each year. Similarly, they work to ensure that they have increasingly challenging roles that aid long term career development. Not all firms do this by any means, but the best do.

When we are self-employed it is sometimes too easy to forget to make these same investments in ourselves. Too often we put developing our business ahead of our personal development needs.

As much as I agree with you that there are great options for combining work and leisure, we should also all remember the benefits of taking a real break sometimes — and that means leaving technology and business cards behind. I imagine your readers would welcome that reminder — I know I need reminding myself from time to time. We owe it to ourselves to be the best consulting firm, even if we are self-employed.

Regards,

Iain