An Entrepreneurs’ Guide to a Thriving Business Through Social Media


Social media is a key tool for growing travel businesses. However, not everyone has the time and resources to spend on it. In addition to overall advice for better travel selling this year, Avoya Travel is sharing tips for travel advisors wanting to harness the power of this tool and use it to their advantage.

Create a Plan

Set specific, measurable and attainable goals and objectives. Ask questions such as ‘why potential clients should utilize your services’ and ‘what’s your value proposition’ to help figure out how to set yourself apart from the competition.

Determine Your Target Audience

Start broad and narrow it down into smaller groups like specific demographics or psychographics. Figure out who your ideal client is, what their needs are and what would excite them about working with you. This will help you better market to them.

Decide Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for Your Business

Sometimes less is more when it comes to social media. You want to make sure your messaging is not spread too thin, so choose one to two platforms that you know you’ll utilize, and remember consistency is key. If beautiful photos to entice your audience is intriguing, Instagram delivers in this department. For a more interactive clientele, Facebook and Twitter do the trick, allowing for more conversation in addition to visuals. Those wanting to post blogs and articles along with photos might choose Pinterest. Travel advisors wanting to enter the world of short video marketing will want to check out the newer popular platform called TikTok.

Develop Community With Your Following

It’s important to get to know and engage with your audience. Keep up on the latest conversations in travel and establish credibility through knowledgeable interaction. In addition to keeping up with the latest travel trends, you can also spark communication by asking and answering questions, responding to comments and highlighting client reviews on your platform

Gear Posts Towards Educating and Entertaining

You’ll want to do more than solely promote your business on social media. In addition to the promotions, travel advisors can showcase beautiful destinations, new resorts, cruise itineraries, etc.

Utilize Social Monitoring Tools

There are ways to see if social media is working for your business. Take time to measure the performances of each of your social platforms. This will help you to figure out if you need to change or increase what you’re doing. One way to do so is by setting up google alerts for your business to keep track of the conversation.

Utilize Avoya’s Marketing Resource Center™

Sometimes busy travel advisors don’t have the time or interest to get the most out of their social media platforms. This is where partnering with someone who can help comes in. Avoya Travel offers turnkey marketing resources for Avoya Network™ members to utilize at any time to grow their business, at no additional cost to them. When you’re ready to post on your social channel, it’s as easy as copying and pasting to share with your clients.

To learn more, visit www.AvoyaNetwork.com or call 1-888-425-6078.





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10 Entrepreneurs Share Tips For Running A Location Independent Business


By Gerri Detweiler

Although the terms “location independent entrepreneur” and “remote worker” are everywhere now, they hadn’t yet made it into the lexicon when I started working remotely years ago. So when I recently left for Europe to try working from overseas, I figured running a location independent business would be a piece of cake. 

A week in, though, PayPal froze access to my business account and I had to jump through numerous hoops to restore it. Other websites I rely on behaved differently once they detected I was outside the United States, forcing me to find workarounds. And a credit card payment was flagged by the bank after it detected it was being paid from a new location. 

I clearly still had a lot to learn about working remotely and running a location independent business. 

“There are many things that you have to keep in mind, prepare for, and adjust to in order to find success as a remote entrepreneur,” warns David McNeill, founder of Expat Empire, a consulting service that supports entrepreneurs in taking their businesses abroad.

“In addition to managing payment providers across multiple currencies, hoping that websites won’t lock your account when traveling to new destinations, and balancing time for work and for fun when you’re exploring a new locale, there are many more issues you may need to handle regarding your global team, client base, and partners,” he explains. 

Here I’ve asked McNeill and other location entrepreneurs to share their strategies for successfully working from anywhere. And I share my own tip, learned firsthand. 

10 tips for running a location independent business

Tip #1: Spring for good accommodations

Advice from Tom Blake, owner of This Online World, a personal finance media company that teaches people how to make money online and become location independent and financially free. Blake has run his business from Florida, Columbia, and Dubai; he’s currently in Florida and plans to head to Europe soon:

“It might be tempting to cut costs when you’re on the road, especially if your business is in its infancy and you’re trying to remain lean. However, your accommodations are one of the most important budget categories when traveling. Not only do you need to be somewhere safe and secure, but the quality of your sleep plays a massive role in how productive you are when living somewhere new. Furthermore, you shouldn’t take amenities like a reliable internet connection for granted; many countries don’t have strong internet as a default.

“I learned this lesson while running my business in Colombia, during which time I booked a private room in a hostel-style Airbnb. Between the noise and Wi-Fi going down every 10 minutes, I had to book a private office at a coworking space, which was around $400 a month. With that extra expense, I could have easily booked my own private accommodation with better amenities and some peace and quiet.

“Things like flights, entertainment, and tourist-related activities are areas you can cut costs. But when it comes to being a location-independent entrepreneur, your accommodations are one area of your budget you shouldn’t cut corners.”

Tip #2: Plan for quiet time

Advice from Matt Ruttenberg, founder of SureLI, an online life insurance company. Ruttenberg worked from an RV in 2020 and is currently searching for a new home base for his location independent business:

“Finding time for taking a Zoom call or conference call was much more difficult than my original expectations, especially when sharing an RV with family. It takes a lot of organizing to find a place with good internet and silence. You’ll need to plan ahead to find a local library, coffee shop, or shared workspace because you just can’t get it done in an RV. Then you’ll need to figure out if they offer Wi-Fi, or if your hotspot has service in that location, all while finding a nice background for your Zoom call. But if you can master the art of planning ahead, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.”

Tip #3: Adjust your hours

Advice from Andrew Pierce, attorney and founder of WyomingLLC.com, which forms businesses, acts as a registered agent, and provides supporting mail and virtual office solutions. Pierce spends more than 250 nights a year traveling.

“I adjust my sleep schedule to better match my teams’. It can make traveling a bit more difficult, but ultimately you need to be there for your team even if that means less sleep, or maintaining odd hours. 

“Making it work depends on how many hours difference you are from your team. When I’m in Europe, I’m often six hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast, so it means late nights, but I’m free to explore in the morning. In Asia it can mean a 12 hour time difference—that means some very early mornings and probably a siesta in the afternoon.”

Tip #4: Spring for good Wi-Fi

Advice from Jacob Wade, founder of Roadmap Money, a personal finance website that helps readers learn how to budget, pay off debt, and start investing toward retirement. Wade is also a money coach and freelance writer. From 2018 to 2020, Wade worked from an RV, traveling to 38 states with his wife and children.

“Reliable internet is a must for my business, and traveling around the United States created connectivity challenges. We were able to stay connected using a rented Verizon plan which offered unlimited (and unthrottled) 4G LTE internet. We also purchased a Cradlepoint mobile router, which could be plugged into the RV. It provided a decent signal for working inside or outside the RV.

“When a Verizon signal was not available, most campgrounds offered free Wi-Fi in their public pavilion area or throughout the park. And when that failed, Starbucks was my go-to for reliable internet and mediocre coffee.”

Tip #5: Plan how to pay for purchases

Advice from Sa El, cofounder of Simply Insurance, an online insurance agency and insurance education blog. El and his husband, Aten-Re El, run their business from multiple U.S. states, and will be working from Columbia next year.

“Notify your financial institutions you’ll be traveling. If your card is declined due to fraud because your bank thinks you’re at home, you could be in a situation where you are unable to get access to your funds. And be careful about carrying too much cash, as it can get you in trouble with the authorities when you enter the country. This happened to us on our last visit to Mexico.”

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Tip #6: Pare down equipment

Advice from Chhavi Agarwal, co-founder of Mrs Daaku Studio, a blog, YouTube channel, and academy which provides work-from-home tips, ebooks, courses, and coaching. Agarwal works while traveling across India.

“It’s important to find equipment that is easy to travel with. I’ve created rules for myself which help me eliminate the need to carry certain equipment. For example, I either batch create video content for my YouTube channel before I leave for another location, or I shoot in the morning so I don’t have the need to carry add-on lights (which are huge). 

“Additionally, I invested in an iPhone 12 so I could use it to shoot in 4K, which means I don’t have to carry a camera. Over time, I have figured out which tech items are absolutely necessary, the ones that can be combined with others, and the ones that aren’t important to carry at all. Make sure you understand how to work efficiently with minimal equipment.” 

Tip #7: Make your business as flexible as possible

Advice from Susi Kaeufer, founder of Dreamlife Deluxe, a business mentoring and coaching business for women entrepreneurs. Kaeufer has been a full-time nomad since 2017, and has run her location independent business from all over the world, including Australia, Europe, and Asia. 

“Make your business as flexible as possible so you can run it from anywhere in the world, no matter the time zone or quality of the internet connection. We communicate a lot via the app Voxer. It’s a free text and voice messaging app that works well for talking back and forth. Instead of having to sit down in a quiet spot and organize a video conference call, I can reply to my clients or my team members while on the go. I don’t even need a great Wi-Fi connection—the voice message will just buffer until it’s fully loaded. 

“In addition, I schedule all my client calls on Tuesday, which leaves me with six days per week where I can travel and explore whenever I want.” 

Tip #8: Leverage email

Advice from Blaire Brown, founder of BlaireBrown.com, a brand strategy firm which helps entrepreneurs and small businesses with marketing and branding initiatives. Brown has worked in multiple states on the East Coast. 

“As the owner of a marketing agency, I have to stay on top of my A game when it comes to consistent outreach and communication. My email list is one of my best assets. Having an automated email system setup is critical for me at all times, especially when I am traveling. When I recently moved from Maryland to Florida, I didn’t have to worry about having to play catch-up with my clients because I had already planned my emails in advance through my email provider, Flodesk. 

“I love Flodesk because it is tailored for my audience of mostly creative entrepreneurs, so its templates and branding customization capabilities make the emails more appealing and more likely to be opened. It makes my life easier with workflow functions, pop-up forms, and landing pages, too. With workflows set up and automated, I can handle big moves across the country, and travel whenever I want to pick up and go with confidence that I’m not missing a beat running my business.”

Tip #9: Document processes for new employees

Advice from David McNeill, founder of Expat Empire, a podcast, website, and consulting service which helps people move and work abroad. McNeill has worked from multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, and now Portugal.

“Given that you probably won’t be physically located in the same place as new team members you’re onboarding, it’s a good idea to create manuals to send to new team members so they can onboard themselves through your tools and processes. Provide an overview of their job responsibilities and how they will be evaluated, an overview of all the tools they will need, the locations on your file management system where they can find key documents, and the contact information of team members they should reach out to if they have questions. This manual should contain all the information they will require to perform their job.

“It’s good practice to spend some time thinking through what it would be like to be a brand-new employee in your remote company, and what you would want to know and experience if you were in that position, and then work backwards to create that experience for all new team members.”

Tip #10: Install a VPN

This is my own tip for running a location independent business, one I discovered the hard way during my current travels through England, France, and Portugal:

Install a VPN before you leave the United States. I could have avoided multiple headaches had I done this. I doubt PayPal would have blocked me from logging into my account had my computer not registered a foreign IP address, for example. Once I realized my error, I had some trouble installing a VPN from overseas. It was a huge hassle. Eventually I was able to install one. Once I set it to my home state of Florida, my problems were solved.

About the Author

Gerri Detweiler has been helping individuals and small business owners make smarter credit and financing decisions for more than two decades; follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn. See Gerri’s articles and full bio at AllBusiness.com.

RELATED: 5 Tips for Better Online Meetings That Help Employees Feel Connected





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Buffett praises East Tennessee entrepreneurs behind two of his businesses


In his annual letter to shareholders released over the weekend, one of the world’s richest men praised the East Tennessee entrepreneurs behind two of his major business acquisitions.

Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, said Clayton Homes which Berkshire acquired for $1.7 billion in 2003 and Pilot Travel Center which Buffett’s investment group plans to buy an 80% share of by 2023, are both generating annual pre-tax earnings of more than $1 billion.

“Each company was started by a young man who had graduated from the University of Tennessee and stayed put in Knoxville,” Buffett said in saluting the entrepreneurs behind the multi-billion-dollar Knoxville companies. “Neither had a meaningful amount of capital nor wealthy parents. Jim Clayton, after several other business ventures, founded Clayton Homes on a shoestring in 1956, and “Big Jim” Haslam started what became Pilot Travel Centers in 1958 by purchasing a service station for $6,000.”

In 2020, Clayton Homes revenues jumped 17.1% to $8.6 billion and pre-tax earnings rose 13.9% to $1.25 billion “driven by increases in units sold and revenue per home sold,” Berkshire Hathaway said in its annual report.

In 2018, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway paid $2.76 billion for an initial 38.6% stake in Pilot Travel Centers, according to insurance filings. The Haslam family plans to maintain a 10% ownership share in Pilot, the nation’s biggest chain of truck stops in the country. Berkshire Hathaway did not break down results for Pilot in its financial filings released Saturday.

The Knoxville businesses are among the diverse businesses in Berkshire’s portfolio and each is now headed by the son of the company founders — Jimmy Haslam at Pilot Travel Center and Kevin Clayton at Clayton Homes.

“Each of the men later brought into the business a son with the same passion, values and brains as his father,” Buffett said. “Sometimes there is a magic to genes.”

Jim Haslam, now 90, has recently authored an inspirational book about his career in which he relates how Jim Clayton’s son, Kevin, encouraged the Haslams to sell a large portion of Pilot to Berkshire.

Big Jim Haslam is the father of former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who is now a visiting professor of political science at Vanderbilt University. A 2015 Forbes article estimated Bill Haslam’s net worth at $2 billion, making him the nation’s wealthiest elected official at that time.

“When you next fly over Knoxville.. tip your hat to the Claytons and Haslams as well as to the army of successful entrepreneurs who populate every part of our country,” Buffett said.

Berkshire Hathaway also owns Shaw Industries, the Dalton, Georgia-based carpet giant which has 20,806 employees who produce carpets, tiles and other floorcoverings around the globe. Berkshire acquired Shaw Industries in 2000 for $2.1 billion.

Shaw is part of Berkshire’s building products division, which recorded a 4.5% increase in revenues to $21.2 billion last year and had an 8.4% gain in pretax earnings to nearly $1.4 billion.

Overall, Berkshire reported Saturday that its earnings in 2020 dropped by 48% to $45.2 billion. While the pandemic hurt many of its business lines — and forced Berkshire to again stage its forthcoming annual meeting as an online-only event, this time in Los Angeles — its profits rose 23% in the fourth quarter, as its stock investments were bolstered by soaring markets.

Among the biggest winners in Berkshire’s vast investment portfolio was its 5.4% stake in Apple, whose shares have been among the top market winners over the past year. In his annual letter to investors that accompanied the company’s financial results, Buffett noted that the iPhone maker was now one of his company’s three biggest assets, with its stake worth $120 billion as of Dec. 31. (Berkshire calculates that it paid $31 billion for its holdings.)

— Compiled by Dave Flessner who may be reached at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340



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