By Rieva Lesonsky
If you’re thinking of running your small business virtually, you’re not alone. Most small business owners today understand the benefits of not having to house all your employees under one roof. Even a small business lender can see the financial advantages you’ll reap, and the working capital you’ll save. But what are some of the biggest hurdles you’ll face? In addition to maintaining some kind of organizational structure and system of accountability, you’ll most likely be hiring some workers sight unseen. Here are some ways to make your virtual business work:
Do your homework. Think about how your business would work with virtual workers. You may want to discuss this with an advisor or another business owner. How will being virtual affect your clients? If you’re moving out of an office, how will it affect your staff? If you’re ready to make the leap, consider transitioning gradually to work out the kinks, perhaps by moving a few employees at a time home or having your employees work at home one or two days a week.
We have the technology. Luckily, today the technologies that are essential for working virtually are readily available and affordable. Pay special attention to security and compatibility. Keep most of your work stored in the cloud so you and your staff can access information from anywhere. Make sure everyone is equipped with the necessary equipment such as scanner/copiers, webcams and microphones, or whatever else is needed to get the job done.
It’s all about communication. It’s especially important to keep everyone on the same page when you’re working remotely—it’s too easy to let things slip through the cracks when you’re not in the same office. In addition, you want to avoid feelings of isolation and being out of the loop. If your staff lives close enough for face-to-face time, make sure you schedule occasional meetings or social lunches. Invest in project management programs such as Liquid Planner, 5 pm and ZOHO Projects. You might also want to use Skype or some other videoconferencing system for online video chats.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports