Remote work was once a concept reserved for a handful of professionals, often reserved for those with super-niche skills. Recently, many businesses have been accelerated into the virtual realm due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown. This large portion of the professional community – now working from home – is steadily showing us that businesses can be run from virtually anywhere. Moreover, small business owners are seeing the benefits of operating virtually, such as eliminating commute times and saving on office rentals.
By turning your company into a ‘virtual business’, you can trim your costs, improve your flexibility and give your team the freedom to work remotely, but this transition does not just “happen.” Adjustments need to be made and you need all of the necessary tools to achieve virtual success. Here are some pointers:
Having the right tools
If you’re going to run a virtual business, you need all the same resources used at the office. You also need to be prepared to automate your business processes and invest in cloud-based software.
There are a variety of advanced cloud and software tools that can help you run an efficient business. Here are some examples of tools which will help you optimize your virtual business:
- File sharing and back-up: GoogleDrive or DropBox
- Voice and video comms: Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype for Business
- Accounting and payroll: Sage Business Cloud or Xero
- Slack or Microsoft Teams for messaging to make communicating and sharing easier.
Communication is important because it keeps the team in tune with deadlines, schedules, challenges, and expectations. In addition, when working with clients remotely, it is vital to communicate as effectively as possible.
Learn how your clients communicate and try to use the communication methods they use to stay connected. In addition to email, use some of the many online live communication tools
Communication is necessary if you want to build relationships, so establishing open lines of communication across the board is a crucial aspect of a virtual business’ success.
Stick to the schedule
Flexibility is great, but to get the most out of your business, you need to have a defined schedule that separates your work time from personal time. Since you work remotely, you may decide you don’t want to be nine-to-five – it’s completely up to you. Regardless of the specifics, stick to it, and be productive in those eight hours. Working by yourself in a non-office setting requires a great deal of self-discipline. Start your day routinely and end it routinely. Having a cutoff time is important to keep your work life from bleeding into your personal life.
Set your goals.
Everyone has very specific goals. We track against those instead of the number of hours worked. Here’s another little-known secret: When people work from home against goals, they work more and are more productive. Having your goals in mind helps keep your business on the right path. You need to know how you want your business to grow and how you want to achieve that growth.
Many analysts believe that virtual businesses will one day be the norm and that traditional brick-and-mortar enterprises will gradually fade in popularity. There are a lot of factors at play with this digital shift, but it mostly comes down to the desire of entrepreneurs wanting to take their business to a global market. After all, technology has made us more connected than ever before. It can be said that with the right tools and self-discipline, you can optimally run your business from virtually anywhere.