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7 Ways to Succeed at Running a Remote Start Up

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remote startup success

Working environments have changed. The 9-5 day born out of the early fifties is no longer so rigid or necessary. Technology has paved the way for the remote worker – those who do their job from a location other than an official company base.

I run noCRM.io, a company of 11 people split across three continents, five countries and eight cities. It started with a regular, office-based structure before moving to a remote company. There are many nuances involved in creating a remote startup but, if done correctly, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Here are some of the fundamentals of what we have learned during the transition from an office-based location to remote working:

1. Get Pro-Tech-ted

The primary enabler for a remote company is technology. Video Conferencing, collaborative cloud-based SaaS (software as a service), and other web-based tools have removed the importance of an official on-site premises. You can now conduct hours of video conferences around the world for free.

But which tech should you look to implement? The type of business must to be taken into account. Skype and Google Hangouts are the most used video-calling methods, while Slack is the go-to platform for messaging. When it comes to project management, Trello and Asana, two web-based tools, top the list for many.  

Even social platforms like Facebook and Whatsapp can act as communication tools and are popular with some companies. The main aspect is to find solutions that work across the team, so everyone is happy to use them.

2. It’s Good to Talk

A crucial aspect of a successful remote startup is communication. There should be a centralized system in place where staff talk to each other. For some that consists of using emails, but the back and forth, along with multiple recipients, can make following trails confusing.

Some companies – especially tech-based ones – create their own internal communications systems for staff to communicate. For others, this is where free message software like Slack shows its worth.

Being remote can lend itself to going long hours without any interaction with peers. At the start of each day, we make sure each member of the company lists three objectives they’re working on for the day. They don’t have to be significant tasks, but it’s a way for everyone to feel included and keep up to date with assignments people are working on.

“Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

3. A Leap of Faith

Finding the right people to work remotely affords a greater opportunity to cherry pick the best talent from all over the world. The interviewing process should take place with an element of caution, however.

Building an understanding with job prospects is harder through video and phone calls. Applicants might have a great resume, but that is only one part of the process. Remote workers need to be competent self-starters.

Be even more thorough than usual when interviewing. Make sure every detail is covered, and no stones are left unturned. Explore the idea of having several video calls with the same candidate before making a final decision.

It’s impossible to be 100 percent sure about a hire even when interviews take place face to face. Nonetheless, remote interviews require a more rigorous process. If something doesn’t feel right, go with your instinct.

Putting more effort into the hiring process has better long-term effects. When you find remote staff that fit the bill, they will take up less of your time. Trust is vital. Once you have it, you can depend on them to use their own initiative.

4. Time Zone Tribulations

While having access to the best staff members from around the world is a bonus, time differences can be problematic. How much of an issue they cause comes down to the type of work your company does and where you are based.

For example, if you are in the US, hiring someone from Australia – where there can be a 16-hour time difference – might not be a good idea. Unless it’s a specific role where regular communication isn’t necessary.

Navigating such a substantial difference in time zones certainly isn’t impossible. But you should weigh up the quality of the candidate in comparison to how much live interaction there will be with them.

5. Let’s Get Physical

While there are many benefits of working remotely, it’s still good practice to get the whole team together at least once a year. An annual meet up (Workation) to talk about strategy and moving forward can re-energize the whole team.

Everybody has the chance to meet in person at least once, which is good for relationship building. Most companies conduct some form of team bonding, and this is a good way to get people together even with remote working as your core structure.

Of course, there are factors to take into consideration, like budgets and logistics. However, bringing the team together at least once a year can help add a new dynamic to the company.

6. Have the Options

Ok, so this isn’t imperative to running a remote startup, but sometimes it’s nice to divide your time between remote structures and an office environment. That doesn’t mean you have to take the plunge and hire a full-time office.

Startup platforms like TechHub have popped up across the globe to offer entrepreneurs a chance to work out of an office at reduced costs. There are usually several options available, including flexi deals that allow you to work out of their bases for a set amount of hours.

The working environments are shared with other like-minded CEOs and business owners. The chances for networking are high, and the atmosphere is a positive one to dip into if remote working is getting a little bit, well, remote.  

“Effective networking isn’t a result of luck – it requires hard work and persistence.” – Lewis Howes

7. Setting Yourself Up for Success

Starting a business presents its fair share of obstacles — and creating a remote startup is no different. Working away from an office still isn’t considered ‘the norm’. But as technology continues to improve, the number of people employed from a location other than an office is likely to rise.

Having a process in place is vital to running a remote business. Work out the structures, set strategies for yourself and your staff, and have a viable way of communicating. Do those things, and it shouldn’t be too long before your remote setup is running smoothly.

Have you ever wanted to work remotely from around the world? If so, what would you do and from where would you work?

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Sunny Paris is a serial entrepreneur with a high scientific background and expertise in developing innovative IT start-ups. Prior to founding noCRM.io he successfully co-founded, developed and listed on the French market Weborama (ALWEB Euronext), a European leader of online advertising services industry. The company was created in 1998, funded by leading institutional investors, survived to the first bubble, and was listed in January 2006. Sunny holds a PhD in theoretical physics from the Ecole Normale Supérieure and has several patents in the online marketing field.

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