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Small Business Tips

How to start a remote small business

Manasa Reddigari

Not being in the same place at the same time can present a host of challenges to a remote small business if you let it. But you can attain the same level of success as a brick-and-mortar business if you follow these tips for running a remote small business.

Lean on technology

Poor communication and collaboration can halt productivity in a remote workforce. Collaborative software can put you and your clients or you and your team in as close contact as they would be in a brick-and-mortar business.

VoIP applications like Skype, chat tools and CRM tools like Microsoft Dynamics afford real-time communication and workflow management even when your team isn't geographically co-located.

You can quickly solve problems when you use better tools.

Hire the self-motivated and time-conscious

You can't keep tabs on workers who are remote with the same ease you can with a worker in a physical office. Nor should you need to do so when running a remote small business.

It's imperative that the professionals you hire for a remote team know how to manage their time and motivate themselves without a boss looking over their shoulder. Look for employees who have a track record of working independently without much hand-holding. You can offer them time management tips, too.

It's equally important that you trust remote employees to complete their work without resorting to micromanagement.

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Don't go M.I.A.

You don't get to be an absentee boss just because you're running a remote small business. You need to be just as present in your employees' work lives as the owner of a physical business.

Regularly check in with your employees and find out what you can do to help them reach their goals. Quickly take actions to remove roadblocks. You don't need to be physically co-located with an employee to make sure that their needs are met on the job.

Make your meetings matter

In the absence of in-person meetings, phone or video conferences can keep you and your remote clients, customers or team members on the same page. The key is to reserve meeting minutes for topics that cannot be addressed via another communication medium.

For example, you may want to devote the bulk of conference time to issues that require brainstorming. You can use email or chat for questions that require quick answers or confirmations.

Foster relationship beyond the screen

However advanced technology may be, remote workers benefit from getting to know each other on a human level. There is only so much you can learn about a teammate through a screen or phone call.

At least once in a while, strive to arrange in-person meet-ups. If you can't all get together in a single location, try setting up meet-ups of clusters of teammates located in a certain region. The bonds you and your teammates will build will benefit both them and the business as a whole.

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