Whether you’re starting your first job or setting up a small business, at some point you’re going to have to go on a business trip. But will it be all you imagined?
Business trips are a fact of life for most small business owners. But for those who’ve never been on one, images of deals done on the golf course, business class flights and meetings on the beach may be a little far-fetched.
Whether you’re travelling by train or plane, it’ll be first class all the way. Champagne as you take your seat and the papers to catch up on what’s happening in the business world. You plug your laptop in and catch up on emails, or finish off your proposal for the big meeting.
You arrive at the station at 6.30am only to find your train is delayed by an hour. Once on board, your reservation seems to have gone missing so you’re forced to stand in the doorway, balancing a quickly fading laptop on your knee. You get online for 5 minutes before the Wifi stops – long enough to download an important email that needs an urgent response, but not long enough to reply to it.
Following your first class trip and chauffeur from the airport to your hotel, you check in to your room with views across the city. You relax with a hot bath and some room service before sinking into the bed for a quick nap before heading down to the 5-star restaurants for a three-course meal…on the expense account of course.
After a long bus journey you arrive at your ‘hotel’. The room doesn’t have a single window, the shower doesn’t work and the TV reception is dodgy at best. There’s no Wifi and you’re scared to plug in your laptop in case it shorts the whole building. Also there’s a funny smell. You’d go out for dinner but there’s nothing nearby for miles (and your expenses stretch to a fiver), so you end up ordering a takeaway and sneaking it upstairs – you now realise what the weird smell is.
The meeting venue
You arrive at the venue, and while your hopes of a meeting on the beach are dashed, the high tech offices are possibly even better. You ride up in a great glass elevator to a room with table tennis tables, staff wearing braces and beards and, is that a slide in the corner? The meeting room is decked out to look like an Argentinian steakhouse and the bowls on the table are full of every sweet from your childhood.
Another windowless room – you’re starting to feel like you’re working in a casino. There are three chairs (even though there will be four of you in the meeting) and a wobbly table. There’s a bottle of fizzy water and some plastic cups, but the bottle is half empty and it looks like the fizz went a long time ago.
After becoming best friends with your meeting buddies, you get down to business. They drive a hard bargain, but so do you. They admire your guts as you hold your ground. In the end, they buckle and you sign the deal of a lifetime getting them to commit to twice as much work for three times the price.
No one really knows what the meeting is about. The boss didn’t have time so sent three office juniors. They constantly ask if you want coffee, each time failing to remember the coffee machine doesn’t work. You try and plough on anyway but they keep telling you they’ll have to ask their boss before they commit. Nothing gets done.
The welcome home
You walk into the office and a hush falls over the room as everyone awaits the news from the big meeting. You stroll past them all, slowly making yourself a coffee as the tension builds. When they can’t take it anymore, you hear a single ‘well?’ from the crowd. That’s your cue to regale them with how you transformed an everyday meeting into one of the biggest captures in the company’s history.
After no one has even acknowledged you’ve returned, just before lunch you send around an email with a report of how the meeting went. Your colleague across the desk from you asks ‘Were you out yesterday?’ You get a single reply to the email from your boss – ‘Thanks’.
Posted by The Secret Businessman