It’s no secret that I’m a fan of travel. I don’t think anybody would expect anything less from a guy who created a board game called Highways & Byways. Right now, as I write this, it’s January 27 at 7:52 am and I’m on a Greyhound bus leaving Chattanooga and arriving in Atlanta. I’ll be flying to Hawaii using my long-since saved up travel points and SkyMiles. Yet here I am, on my time off, on my chance to unplug, writing to you because I love what I do 🙂
I think travel makes people better equipped to handle tough challenges. You have to be independent, organized, and adventurous to travel to a place you’ve never been, especially alone as I am doing right now. At the same time, it’s not nearly as hard to do as you think. A Greyhound bus is a few bucks, road travel is cheap, and even domestic flights can be inexpensive if you’re not too picky.
In all my travels, I’ve noticed that there are five particular uncanny similarities between travel and business. By sharing them, I hope you can either relate to or emotionally understand some of the trickier parts of business that are terribly difficult to explain without the use of metaphor.
1. Sometimes you’re on a tight timeline.
The plane boards 45 minutes before the flight time. Please arrive two hours early for domestic flights to allow for enough time to pass through security. Airports, trains, and buses run on tight, tight, tight timelines that don’t have a lot of room for negotiation. I have literally had to run through the Charlotte airport to board a flight on time during the world’s shortest layover.
The board game business can work like that, too. Kickstarter campaigns, in particular, have a way of compressing time so tightly that it threatens to give birth to a black hole. There have been days where I have gotten home from work, cranked out blog posts for a few hours, scheduled social media, texted my girlfriend good night, and fallen asleep only to do that again. It’s not good to do this all the time, but it happens sometimes and it’s really hard to avoid. You have to be ready for that.
2. There are lots of details to remember.
All luggage that will not fit in the overhead compartment will need to be checked at the gate. You may bring a carry-on and a personal item into the cabin. All liquids must be in containers 3.4 fl oz or less and must be in a quart size resealable clear plastic bag. Please make sure your boarding pass matches your government issued ID. Please make sure your state’s license is compliant with the Department of Homeland Security’s new REAL ID program, or else you’ll need your passport. (Tennessee is, in fact, compliant.) Show up to your flight on time and the right gate. Did you grab your headphones? It’s a long flight. Hope you didn’t get the middle seat…
Business can be like that, too. I’ve had to check every single component in 10 copies of Highways & Byways and send it to reviewers. I’ve checked cards for color consistency and printer alignment. I made sure the boards and all the pieces looked good. I made sure there were no typos in the rules. I have to make sure my website looks good and the mailer is working. I have to use metrics to track my marketing plan, lest I fall flat when trying to launch this game on Kickstarter. My Google Calendar is a mosaic of different colored time boxes, each representing a different commitment, accurate to fifteen minutes. My brain has more dates and times rattling around in it than a Delta airlines mainframe.
3. You will be under a lot of stress.
Hopefully nothing goes wrong with security. Hopefully nothing goes wrong that keeps me from getting to my Atlanta flight. Hopefully I’m not late to arrive in LAX and unable to catch the only flight to KOA that day. Hopefully I can sleep on the plane. Hopefully my cell phone gets reception on the island. Hopefully that rental car’s collison insurance is really good if I need it…
In business and in travel, the stressful elements will keep coming and they won’t stop. You can do plenty to try to reduce the amount of stressful experiences you have, but you will ultimately need to work on your ability to manage stress. Over time, you’ll adapt and keep a level head. Even if your printer doesn’t print samples to spec, even if your artist is late, even if your website is down, and even if your Kickstarter campaign fails to fund, you will be okay. You must make peace with the unknown.
4. You may encounter unexpected expenses.
Because travel requires facing so much of the unknown, you may encounter unexpected expenses. Sometimes it can be silly little things like not having a disposable razor. Sometimes you forget to pack critical items of clothing and have to buy new ones. Food can be surprisingly expensive if you don’t have a good idea of where you will eat. You never know when you will find the perfect souvenir either…
I’ve had similar unexpected expenses pop up in businesds. The first time I encountered state tax was a big one. Federal tax on Kickstarter income the following year was another one. I’ve also paid out the nose for prototype copies. One of the biggest thorns in my side with this coming Kickstarter campaign is that I will need to spend around $1,000 (and therefore raise $1,500 more) to cover the cost of child safety testing for Highways & Byways. Since it is marketing to children under the age of 14, I need to be compliant with EN-71 and ASTM F 963. So it goes.
5. Travel and business can both bring tremendous benefits.
For all the logistical hijinks and stress, travel and business both bring incredible experiences. Both can teach you more about yourself and both can help you grow into being a better person with more skills and interesting stories to share. Stories of my poorly planned European train tour have gone over well at parties for years and chasing my childhood dream with War Co. opened more doors than you can imagine.
I end this article with a challenge to you: try something you’re afraid of. It can grow you and make you a more complete person 🙂
Most Important Highways & Byways Updates
- I’ve been on vacation this past week, so I’ve relied on automation to keep my business running.
- Before leaving, I made sure all review copies and all RFQs for printing prices were sent.
- I started editing some early Kickstarter footage and audio that I had pre-recorded while flying/a layover in LAX.
- The giveaway contest on Facebook wrapped up last Monday, February 5. You’ll know who won on Monday, February 12 if you check on Facebook.