I have a 14-19 hour time difference between most of my clients with Girlboss Designer. Since moving across to the world from Atlanta to Australia I’ve had to adapt to running an online business overseas with dramatically different and constantly changing time zones. Luckily I’ve got some tools and tricks up my sleeve to share!
Wondering how it’s possible to run a business full time from the other side of the world? This episode is for you!
TIP 1- Utilize Online Platforms & Tools
My favorites are = Zoom (for calls), Acuity (for Calendar appts) & Honeybook (Project Management)
Zoom is what I use for the actual calls with clients or potential clients.
You can choose to do a video or just audio call – but I’m not going to lie I mostly just do audio calls because I’m in my PJs since most of my calls are in the morning with the time difference. I also think having just audio means there is less tech to deal with.
When I first launched my business I had multiple call options listed when someone was booking in. I had Zoom, Skype, Facebook Messenger and a regular phone call if someone happened to be located in Australia. I was trying to be more accommodating but in reality it just led to confusion about where the call was happening, so I cut out all the options and just do Zoom calls now. So much better to keep it simple and clear!
Acuity is the platform I used for scheduling calls with clients.
This is an absolute MUST if you are living on the opposite side of the world as most of your clients but honestly it’s worth it even if you have clients in a few different time zones.
I remember when I first launched my business I was always trying to convert time zones to schedule a call. First I had to know where that client or potential client was located and then convert everything accordingly. Try throwing in multiple time changes throughout the year and it became impossible to keep up with!
Having an online calendar booking platform solved all of this for me. When someone goes to book a call they are able to see my available time slots in THEIR own timezone, and I receive the notification about the call in mine. This cuts out so much of the confusion and I’ve gotten multiple compliments from clients who appreciate how easy and efficient that process is. Plus I think it just makes you look way more professional too!
Acuity has different call types you can setup with different allowable durations so I can set a shorter call length for a consultation call but a much longer call length for a website review with a current client. The platform also reminds the client about their upcoming call, syncs with my Google calendar so I only have to look in 1 place to know what’s happening, and makes it really easy for both myself and the client to reschedule a call on our own if needed.
Honeybook is the platform I use for client project management.
The second someone fills out an inquiry form on my website they are automatically put into Honeybook as an inquiry. From there I will book a consultation call with them, and if they decide to move forward with working together Honeybook handles all proposals, billing and payment processing. It also provides reports for income, lead sources, monthly booking values and SO much more.
When living overseas and traveling in different countries I love knowing that all my important documents with clients are all on 1 secure platform vs. having paperwork scattered in different places or living on my computer. I also love the auto-billing feature because no matter when I am I don’t have to worry about forgetting to bill a client. Once I set up their schedule in the initial proposal Honeybook sends the invoices automatically on those dates, and it even reminds them if they have a past-due payment.
TIP 2- Set Boundaries
There 3 types of boundaries we’re chatting about today – Time, Contact & Notification boundaries.
Time boundaries – Decide the hours in the day you want to work.
Working in a totally opposite time zone you can be tempted to drastically alter your hours to better fit your clients. And while it seems like your doing them a service – if you’re not able to be your best during those times it really isn’t helping anyone.
I used to allow client calls to take place as early as 6am my time to accommodate my East Coast clients. Well guess what- I was usually half awake on the call. Having a call that early also cut out my morning routine I love so much, so unless I wanted to wake up at like 5am or earlier I was diving directly into work without taking care of myself first.
I then decided to not allow any client calls to happen before 8am and no one freaked out!
If anything it was even better because a lot of my clients still had day-jobs or kids activities to run to. It turned out closer to evening time was better because they had less going on. No calls before 8 allowed me to still wake up naturally with no alarm and have time for myself before working.
Contact boundaries – Let clients know when they can expect to hear from you
I also only have actual calls available by appointment only because of the large time difference- otherwise all other communication is done through email.
I found when I let clients in the U.S. know they’d typically hear from me late afternoon and evening their time it cleared up a lot of confusion. They might have an email waiting for them in the AM which I sent overnight their time – but they shouldn’t expect to receive emails from me during their day time since that would be my night.
There will still be those clients every now and then who like to check in to make sure I received that email they sent an hour ago but never got a reply to. But I just politely remind them of the time difference once I’m back online working again.
Being so far away from most clients also means I am usually an entire day ahead of them. So their Sunday is my Monday. And their Friday is my Saturday. I always respect their Sundays by not expecting to be in contact on my Mondays – and I reserve my Saturdays for being off work and therefore don’t feel the pressure to be responding to email – even though it’s technically Friday for my clients. I actually love being a day ahead because it forces us to be more efficient with the week and Mondays are super chill focused days.
Notification boundaries – I personally choose not to have my email notifications pop up on my phone.
I’ve always had it set up this way and believe so much in the importance of separation from work in your off hours.
It’s way to easily to get distracted by email and email all day every day if it’s popping up on your phone – so I prefer to leave email for during my work hours only, unless I just felt like popping online some other time.
This is connected with setting time & communication boundaries because you’re not tempted to break your own boundaries! Reinforcing work time, contact and notification boundaries not only allows me to be more productive because there are less distractions, but it also allows me to separate myself from work in my off hours.
Will some clients have an issue with not being able to contact you whenever they choose and get a reply whenever they want? Maybe – but what I’ve learned is those just aren’t the right clients for me. You get what you are willing to accept.
TIP 3- Just Be Upfront & Don’t Let it Scare You
There’s no point in trying to hide the fact that you live overseas!
Back then I wasn’t purposefully marketing to women in the US but since I was new my first clients were coming from my immediate connections… which were mostly of course, in America.
I was a little nervous about the distance when I was just getting started.
Would they trust someone located overseas?
Would the time difference be a problem for them?
Would they feel comfortable paying someone overseas?
ALL the fears crept up as they usually do.
But with the way the world is these days it’s normal for people to be traveling regularly and to be working remotely.
I actually have found it can even work in your favor! So many times on client consultation calls they will be intrigued by the fact that I live in Australia and want to know more about how that all came to be. So instead of trying to hide it or downplay it – show it off! It inspires others to go after their dreams as well.
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