Woman greets virtual meeting attendees
If you've ever considered running a fully-remote business, now is a better time than ever to get started. Consider these important steps to set your business up right. — Getty Images/ fizkes

In the age of remote work and social distancing, it's easier than ever to launch, grow and run a business without the need for a physical office or in-person meetings. If you’re considering exploring this path, though, it’s important to have the right technology, systems and processes in place.

Whether you’re launching a new company or transitioning a previously in-person business to a permanently remote one, here's what you need to know about running a fully virtual business.

[Read: The Pros and Cons of Transforming into a Virtual Company — Permanently]

Virtual business basics: What do you need to run a remote company?

While you may have specialized needs depending on the type of business you run (e.g. inventory management for e-commerce, proposal/contract software for service providers, etc.), there are a few things every virtual business owner should have in place.

Hardware

  • A good home office setup. Having a dedicated workspace will help you feel more organized and productive. As a bonus, a separate, business-only space means you may be able to qualify for the home office tax deduction.
  • High-quality equipment. Invest in a reliable laptop, a good webcam/mic if you're planning to do video calls and any other tech you might need to conduct your business.
  • High-speed internet connection. As remote work requires most tasks to be done digitally, you’ll need a high-speed internet connection that allows you to work efficiently and securely.

Software

  • Communications software. Since you won’t be in an office with your workers, it’s important to have reliable email, chat, video conferencing and other communication software that can host these conversations.
  • Accounting software. You’ll need software to track your finances, create invoices, pay vendors/employees, etc.
  • Project management/collaboration software. To keep your clients and team on the same page despite working remotely, invest in a quality project management/collaboration software that organizes all your important files.
  • HR/recruiting software. Managing a remote team is not easy, but using HR/recruiting software will help you build and manage your team.
  • VPN and security software. Keep your business data safe by using a reputable virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your web traffic, as well as an antivirus program for all work-related devices.

[Read: Top Tech Tools to Keep Your Team Connected During Coronavirus]

Managing a remote team is not easy, but using HR/recruiting software will help you build and manage your team.

Tips for running your virtual business

Here are four tips to help you operate your fully virtual business:

Have a solid plan for communicating, managing projects and setting goals with your team and customers/clients.

To ensure you’re on the same page with your remote employees, create a concise plan that outlines how you will be communicating with your workers, customers and clients (Slack, email, Zoom calls, phone calls or all of the above), as well as how you plan on managing projects and settings goals as a team. Make sure you are consistent with these efforts so there’s no confusion or discrepancies along the way.

Create a process for recruiting, hiring and onboarding remote employees.

Since you won’t be in-person with job candidates or new workers, you’ll have to create recruiting, hiring and onboarding processes that ensure a secure and seamless transition onto your team. For instance, you might conduct interviews and onboarding calls on Zoom for a more personal experience that allows your workers to really feel like part of the team.

Focus on building the right kind of culture and leadership skills.

Creating a positive company culture is important (and still possible) when managing a remote team. Hone your leadership skills and create a “safe” space that allows room for mistakes, questions and feedback. Make sure you consider time zone differences, check in with every employee individually and get the whole team together frequently. These small initiatives will ensure your workers feel supported and valued.

Talk to other virtual business owners to get their insights.

It’s always helpful to connect with those who are in the same boat as you, or have been in your shoes before. Ask other virtual business owners for advice on running a fully virtual business and share your own tips to generate ideas.

[Read: Managing From Home? Here’s How to Keep Your Team Engaged During Coronavirus]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published March 03, 2021