Small Business editor of the NZ Herald

Small Business: Travel - Greg Sheehan, RightWay

This week, small business editor Caitlin Sykes talks to business owners about travel.
Greg Sheehan, CEO and executive director of RightWay.
Greg Sheehan, CEO and executive director of RightWay.

Greg Sheehan is CEO and executive director of accounting firm RightWay.

What kind of travel do you do for work?

I live in Martinborough, which is a rural winegrowing area about 80 km out of Wellington, so travel is hard baked into what I do. We have an office in Martinborough, but I don't work out of there very often; I'm one of those guys who doesn't really have an office because I'm always on the move. Typically I'm either driving to Wellington, or coming up to Auckland, which I do overnight on the same days each week. Some of my leadership team are in Auckland, as are a lot of our strategic contacts. And then every third or fourth week I'm in Sydney. We've set up an operation there now, so we're doing a lot of hiring in that market.

Do you find sustaining that level of travel challenging?

I've realised now that it's just the norm for me, so I focus on doing it well with minimal impact on my family. In a previous role I used to travel to Sydney every week and I'd beat myself up about flight times, catching the earliest flights there and the latest flights home that I could. So one thing I do now is make sure my flight times aren't ridiculous. For example, when I'm flying to Auckland I'll catch an 8.30am flight out of Wellington, and the following afternoon I'll be on the 4.30pm flight back, so I'm home by 7pm.

It helps that more generally flexibility is part of how we work as a company. We're 100 percent cloud based and our team can work from the office or from home.

What are some other practical things you do to keep you productive and efficient when you're on the road?

I'm a really big delegator. I take a lot of pressure off myself by delegating certain tasks and choosing to spend my time with people where I need to spend time with them. So I'm not one of those people you'll see on a plane banging out multiple reports. I know a lot of small business owners find it hard to do that because there often aren't a lot of people to delegate to, but if they can take some pressure off themselves in some areas that's one less thing they have to think about when they're travelling.

COMING UP: The baby boomer market is growing. What are some businesses specifically targeting this demographic, and what have they learnt about reaching this audience?

Another one is exercise. I have the worst willpower in the world, but I do try to get out of bed in time to go for a walk or run. It's amazing how much better you feel by getting out and getting some fresh air. I also use the airport lounge and I'd encourage people who travel regularly to pay the money to do so. I'm an accountant and I like a deal as much as anybody, but if you look at it it's actually quite cost effective because you get fed, it gives you a place to work from and it's great for business because you often bump into people you know.

And I do make a point of keeping up communication with the family. At night if I'm in a meeting, I'll always step out and make a phone call home, and I'll flick everyone a text in the morning. It keeps up that routine and ensures you're in touch with what's going on at home.

I think it ultimately helps that I just enjoy travel. If you look at it begrudgingly then it's never going to be much fun, but if you can try and turn your mind to the positives - like being able to walk along the waterfront of a city where you don't usually live - then you actually realise it's pretty cool.

Is there anything in particular that you avoid doing when you travel?

I do avoid a lot of going out for dinner and drinks at night. If you're doing that all the time it wears you down physically. I'm not perfect, but I do try to limit it and get a reasonable night's sleep.

- NZ Herald

Coming up in Small Business: The baby boomer market is growing. What are some businesses specifically targeting this demographic, and what have they learnt about reaching this audience?

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