Three Tips for Running Your Business Away From Your Business
As freelancers there are often times we work away from our desks. This could be due to taking much needed vacations or working from a coffee shop to gain a little human interaction. How can you keep your business going in a professional setting when you’re not working from your typical office space?
Treat Phone Calls With Care
If you’re accepting client phone calls away from your office, make sure you’re in a quiet space. As I type this I’m in a coffee shop, sitting amongst noisy coffee grinders and loud conversations. I don’t mind noise while I’m working, but if a client calls, I need to remain professional. I step outside to take the call. This ensures a conversation that isn’t interrupted and allows me to give the client the same attention as I would from my office. Can you imagine trying to conduct a professional conversation where both parties are continuously repeating themselves? It would be pretty unproductive.
Leave Away Messages
If you are traveling for a period of time or will be out of the office for a few hours, think about leaving an away message on your answering machine and/or an email auto-responder. If your client tries to contact you, they’re probably expecting a relatively quick response. To make sure they know you’re away and may not return their inquiry as quickly as normal, simply say so. It’s helpful to note the dates you’ll be gone and when you’ll be returning to the office. Also, if you decide to take calls from a cell phone or at another number, this would be the time to tell the client.
Give Clients the Heads Up
I’ve been fortunate enough to live in Switzerland for six weeks while still running my business back home. How was this done? I gave my clients plenty of notice. Two months out I sent emails to each client individually, telling them of my plans to leave. I explained what my temporary work schedule be, when I would return, and when I would need all new project requests turned in by. I also explained what to do and who to turn to in the event of an emergency. At the end of every email and every phone conversation for the last two weeks prior to my trip, I reminded clients of my upcoming trip.
While away, I was working here and there, but made sure my clients knew of my expected project and message turn-around times. The trip went very smoothly and my clients were wonderful. Upon my return home to The States, I sent out another email regarding my return and a thank you note for their cooperation.
Being a freelancer doesn’t mean sacrificing vacations or working from different locations. It just means being a little more organized and planning ahead in order to accommodate client needs effectively and professionally.