How to Successfully Run a Remote Business
Over the past few years, we’ve all been thrown into the deep end of working remotely. Some people love it, while others can’t wait to get back into the office. But regardless of where you stand, remote business is here to stay–and we need to adapt accordingly.
Our latest podcast guest has been running a successful remote business for 13 years and has plenty of insight to share. Michael Zipursky is the CEO and Co-Founder of Consulting Success, with over 20 years of experience helping consultants add 6- and 7-figures to their annual revenue.
Michael joined the Predictable Revenue podcast to discuss how to successfully run a remote business, including his best tips for team communication, infrastructure, and how to scale your team while working remotely.
Why build a remote business?
While most companies were playing catch up during the pandemic, for Michael and his team at Consulting Success, it was business as usual.
Michael and his Co-Founder decided early on that they wanted to work remotely for greater freedom and flexibility; so they developed a remote business model that involves online training, workshops, and coaching. When their initial services were successful, they knew they’d found the right fit, and continued to scale Consulting Success from there.
How a remote business contributes to the lifestyle triangle
A key part of the decision to start a remote business was Michael’s desire for a greater work-life balance. According to his triangle methodology, most people tend to put work at the apex of the triangle and lifestyle at the bottom. They focus on revenue goals and build a life that supports their business, rather than the other way around.
The result is that many financially successful people end up unhappy in other areas of their lives. They travel often, work long hours, and don’t spend enough time with family.
In Michael’s view, you need to think about lifestyle before work. Consider what you need to feel happy and fulfilled, and work backward from there.
You don’t need to sacrifice your lifestyle for a successful business or vice versa. Working remotely offers new opportunities to balance both sides of your life.
Building a business that supports your lifestyle
Your current business model may bring in revenue, but how does it support your ideal lifestyle?
Start by defining what success looks like to you. Consider your revenue goals, lifestyle, team structure, and whether or not you’re interested in working remotely. Once you have a clear idea of where you want to go, you can build a business model to support that.
Try not to limit yourself to the status quo. If you want to grow a remote business, look for creative solutions like online courses and training. Again, keep your vision of success in mind, and think about what business model will help you get there.
Shifting from in-person to working remotely
The biggest roadblock that most businesses face when they shift to working remotely isn’t a lack of systems or technology–it’s mindset.
Many businesses saw the shift to remote working as an insurmountable challenge. They were reluctant to change their way of doing things, and as a result, they got left behind. The businesses that have thrived these past few years have been those that adapted.
For example, professional speakers make most of their income from live events. A few years ago, most would never have considered moving to a remote business model. Yet after the pandemic hit, many quickly pivoted to online events and speaking opportunities.
The unexpected benefits of operating a remote business
Working remotely has brought many challenges, but it’s also brought new opportunities; professional speakers are able to impact more people now than they ever could have with in-person events.
For many of us, working remotely has also meant less travel time. You can now attend an event in Europe in the morning and meet with a client in Australia the same afternoon. All of this means we’re able to spend more time at home with our families.
Another benefit is that remote sales organizations are able to hire the world’s top talent. Instead of being limited to local candidates, it’s now possible to hire and onboard a team from around the world.
Communication tips for working remotely
Unfortunately, there’s no way to replicate the start-up energy that comes from being in the same room as your team. Instead, in order to successfully shift to a remote business, you need a more formalized communication system.
Many businesses took this shift as an opportunity to have fewer meetings. In fact, Michael suggests the opposite: while working remotely, it’s more important than ever to have regular meetings.
Use tools like Slack and Zoom to touch base with your team; this will keep everyone accountable and on track toward their goals.
Scaling a remote business
Like any other business, the first step to scaling is to identify your annual and quarterly goals. Define your priorities, assign tasks to specific team members, and track your metrics.
Don’t get caught up in the technology, but instead focus on what you’re working towards as a team. Are you making progress toward your goals? If not, why? For example, if it’s taking longer than it should to complete certain tasks, there could be an organizational problem.
Make sure you have a central system where your team has access to all the information they need. One solution is to start using a new project management tool.
However, Michael cautions against adding too many new tools to the business. Think about the use case before complicating things; less is generally better.
As you scale, you’ll also need to start documenting Standardized Operating Procedures (SOPs). If you need help standardizing your process or building your sales playbook, book a free assessment call with us!
Building a remote business from scratch
Building a remote business is similar to any offline company; you start by validating your offer to ensure market fit, build out your pipeline, then reinvest that revenue back into the company.
The first hire in any remote business is usually a virtual assistant (VA). Before hiring help, take an inventory of how you’re spending your time and identify what low-value tasks can be outsourced. If your highest priority is bringing in new leads, you shouldn’t be spending hours on bookkeeping and admin work.
In general, you should delegate as soon as you have the revenue to do so. This frees up your time to focus on what matters most–and also what you enjoy doing most.
If there are any tasks that you truly hate doing, they should be outsourced as soon as possible. Not only will this save your sanity, but the tasks you find most enjoyable are usually high-value for the business and have a greater return on investment.
Balancing scaling with sustainability
Many founders wait too long to start outsourcing, which is why it’s a good rule of thumb to hire before you feel ready.
Another common problem is that we pass on too many tasks to our first hire. In the early stages, we wear so many different hats, and we expect our VA to do the same. Instead, you should hire each person to take over a specific task or set of tasks (ie., bookkeeping, social media, email management). Categorize the areas you need help in and hire accordingly.
Finally, when you’re growing a remote business (or any business), the goal posts are always moving. As soon as you reach one revenue goal, you’ll begin chasing the next one. That’s why it’s important to optimize for the journey and not the destination. Hire a team that can grow with you now and in the future.
Tips for minimizing waste in remote sales and marketing
Remote sales and marketing operate similarly to their offline counterparts. The biggest trap Michael sees clients fall into is that they focus on creating lots of activity, when they should be focusing on impact.
For example, you can spend hours updating your LinkedIn profile or the copy on your website, but that isn’t going to lead to any direct results.
Instead, consider what you need to do to get in front of your ideal clients. It all starts with creating conversations–sending an email, picking up the phone, or asking for an introduction. Outreach is what actually moves the needle.
Final thoughts on running a successful remote business
Working remotely isn’t as difficult as we once thought. In fact, it’s quite similar to running an in-person business.
The most important change is a mindset shift, to prioritize lifestyle over revenue, identify new opportunities for growth, and build a sustainable business model for the future. Once you’ve recalibrated to the remote world, it’s business as usual.
The tips in this book will help you navigate a better outbound process, one that focuses on human connection over quotas. Because ironically, focusing on your prospect instead of the sale will make you a more successful sales rep.
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