According to small business and personal finance expert David Koch, travel is a terrific way for business owners to get an edge on their competition.
"Travel provides fantastic opportunities for business owners to learn how to communicate in different ways. Experiencing new cultures can have a profound effect. It can provide inspiration and introduce you to new ways of doing business."
As the host of Sunrise, position as Chairman of Port Adelaide Football Club and founder of growing media company Pinstripe, Koch spends a lot of time on the road and in the air. But he's not alone in this trend.
In April 2017, Smart Company's annual survey found 46% of small business owners travel domestically and 28% internationally, up to five times each year.
Admittedly, digital transformation has made connecting with customers, staff and suppliers easier than ever.
While videoconferencing is great for every-day transactions, when it comes to setting up a strategy, or entering into a partnership nothing beats a face-to-face meeting.
"Of course, it can be tempting to Skype a call rather than make the effort of a face-to-face meeting," Koch says. "But the benefits of being on the ground and making that connection can be crucial. Especially if you are looking to expand your business into a new territory."
Koch is a big believer that international travel can benefit a business owner. In 2017 he launched the first ‘Secrets to Doing Business in China' conference in conjunction with Port Adelaide and AustCham Shanghai. The event saw hundreds of small business owners fly in to China to attend the forum to hear from expert speakers on how to do business with our Eastern neighbours."
"There is no better way to understand another nation's business practices than to immerse yourself in their local culture," Koch explains. "You can't do that from your office in Australia, you need to get out on the ground. International travel can help you better understand and launch into new markets."
Of course, travelling for business often means you are travelling alone, and Koch highlights this as another opportunity. "Travel is great for resilience. Learning to navigate unfamiliar places, coping with language barriers, getting lost… How you meet these challenges can deliver powerful lessons."
Travel is also a great source of inspiration. "Visiting another country, whether for business or pleasure can really open your eyes to new possibilities. You might see different ways to connect with your customers. Or observe trends that haven't yet arrived in Australia that you can then capitalise on for your business," he explains.
Time management is another valuable by-product of travel. According to Koch, the more you travel the better you get at time management.
"Travel is all about schedules, from getting to the airport on time, to making the time to see local attractions when on a business trip. The more you do it the more it translates to skills you can use in your business," he explains.
Koch says today it's easier than ever for business owners to travel. Simply making use of business travel programs and a charge card linked to a rewards program can help ensure small businesses are benefiting from additional perks such as complimentary lounge passes, travel insurance and sometimes, additional frequent flyer points.
"Point hacking is another way small business owners can profit from travel. Especially if they have a business rewards card that allows them to transfer rewards points to staff and family members."
The way Koch tells it, businesses that aren't travelling are missing out.
"If you do have the opportunity to travel, do it. Life happens when you step outside your comfort zones. Travel enriches you as a person, it inspires the entrepreneurial spirit and teaches you leadership and resilience. That's a big benefit to you and your business."
This article is sponsored by American Express in conjunction with Kochie's Business Builders. To see more articles on tips and tricks for small businesses visit kochiesbusinessbuilders.com.au
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