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
The Problem Is Not Your Website Or Your Product.
I spend a lot of my time talking to business owners. They focus on their product, their marketing channels and trying to make more profit.
I met one such business owner who was in the plastic surgery business. Their product (boob jobs and nose jobs) was not working. Their website sucked and people clicked off as soon as they visited it.
People would call their office, get put on hold, listen to the on hold message and hang up.
This business didn’t seem all that special. I’ve talked to many businesses and didn’t think for a microsecond that a plastic surgery clinic could ever teach me anything valuable.
I’ve been to Hollywood on holidays and the issues of body image are all too apparent to me. Anyway, this post is not about body image.
I ended up losing this business as a customer — not that I would ever have sold anything to them if it were up to me. I sat down one afternoon and thought about why we no longer did business with them.
That’s when I realized it’s not about your product or your website. All the issues with this plastic surgery clinic and a lot of other businesses I’ve dealt with stem from one thing. Let me explain in more detail.
Your Google Reviews say you’re an piece of work.
I looked up their Google Reviews and their customers said they were assholes.
They spoke down to clients, they didn’t deliver their clients what they wanted, they argued with their staff in front of customers and they treated people like they were nothing more than a dollar sign.
All I had to do was read their Google reviews to see that the problem wasn’t their product or their website.
Your clients tell you every day that you suck.
I asked the plastic surgery what their clients said.
Many of their clients told them that their services sucked and they would prefer to go to places like Thailand where they could get a better product at a much lower price.
The business owner made the mistake of thinking it was their product that was the problem and that a new website will tell clients a different message.
That wasn’t it.
You abuse your staff and they consistently leave.
I spoke with many staff that worked for this business.
Every single one of them hated the company and were not afraid to say what they thought of the business owner.
The business owner would sit outside on a nice sunny day and look across the street at all the yachts and the people boarding them.
They’d sit there and think that every lead they got was going to take them one step closer to owning their very own yacht.
“If only I could deliver more boob jobs, maybe I could have one of those,” they thought quietly to themselves hoping that no one else could hear how ridiculous this sounded.
I can remember multiple times being on the phone to the business owner and having one of their staff burst into tears halfway through the call.
The first time it happened I didn’t think much. After the third time, I got the message. During the short time I dealt with this business, people consistently left. If you made it to the six-month mark, you were some sort of hero and would probably be given a free surgery to say thank you for your work and make you feel worse about your own body at the same time.
It was free noses and boobs in return for daily abuse.
The problem still wasn’t the website all the product.
You don’t solve real problems; you solve your own problem.
A good business solves a problem.
That problem typically affects human beings and solving it is how you make money in business. Solving problems can start out with a problem that affects you, but at some point, you’ve got to start solving that same problem for other people/businesses.
This owner of this plastic surgery clinic was only trying to solve their own problem which was making more money to buy fancy items like yachts.
Only solving your own problem is not just selfish but bad business.
Good business is solving a big problem or lots of small problems for entire strangers who you don’t know thus doing something valuable for the human race.
Solving only your problem will make you poor.
The problem still wasn’t their website or product.
Creating more problems.
Everything this business owner sold created more problems.
They’d film videos to purposely make people feel like their body wasn’t perfect.
They’d write articles suggesting that everyone needs botox to feel young.
They’d take photos of men and women who were supposed to be perfect so that young people would dream of looking like them.
Not only was their business not solving a real problem; it was also creating more problems every day that it existed.
If your business creates more problems than it solves, you’re in real trouble.You need to take a long hard look at the business and become obsessed with doing everything you can to change it — and do so damn fast to limit the whirlwind of problems you’re creating behind you.
The heart of the problem.
It’s the business owner.
The business I mentioned will fail. That part is certain. The problem with the business is not the website or the product.
The problem is the business has no heart because the business owner has no heart.
You cannot focus on your own selfish desires, create really bad problems in the world, treat other human beings like garbage and expect to go buy a yacht and live happily ever after. It just doesn’t happen like that.
Whether you are a plastic surgery clinic like the one I described or a solo entrepreneur, the problem with your business is you.
Fix the problem of YOU. You can’t get away with being horrible forever.
Being horrible is bad business.
Being respectful, kind and valuable is the final answer to the problem with your business.
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Everyone Wants Sales Leads But No One Wants To Sell
Sales leads are the lifeblood of any business.
Without leads, your business doesn’t make money. That’s why many businesses treat leads like the most valuable resource in existence. Leads are a topic that never goes away and you can never have enough.
Sales leads are the cause of so many disputes in business.
We have it all wrong, though.
Having something to sell is the real answer.
Knowing what you’re selling.
Many companies don’t know what they are selling.
They think they’re selling products or services that magically turn into revenue and light up your accounting software with lots of green, shiny graphs.
Until you know what you’re selling, sales leads won’t help. Getting more sales leads, increasing your Adwords spend, buying more Facebook ads, doing more networking events, printing more t-shirts and producing more ‘content’ for your blog will not help.
You’re not getting enough leads or closing the leads you have because you’re not sure what you’re selling.
Are you selling to humans?
Go and Google ten company websites. Pick any ten.
You’ll notice one thing: more than half the websites don’t sound like they are selling to humans.
There’s no human language, very little content created by the people that work at the company, zero compassion and not a lot of humility.
Most websites are designed to sell to robots that can’t stop looking at their smartphone. That’s not us. We’re human despite our phones changing the way we live.
Humans look for thoughtful businesses.
Humans look for solutions to problems that are not being solved.
Humans like a business to stand for something human.
How you sell matters.
Selling like you’re in the office with The Wolf Of Wall Street Jordan Belfort will not help you sell.
How you sell matters just as much as what you sell.
The process you put a client through has to be simple, thoughtful and in their best interests (not yours).
That last point is crucial. Many businesses exist to serve the board or shareholders, but they do very little to help people like you and I live a better life and do our best work.
The values of your company and what you stand for effect the leads. Before anyone ever becomes a lead in your sales funnel they are a person or a group of persons (a business) with a problem.
Many people never make it into your sales funnel because how you sell what you do is wrong.
Paying for more leads is not nearly as powerful as changing how you sell to the leads you have.
Loving the people who do the selling.
Leads are only half the puzzle.
The bigger question is who is selling to the leads? Does your business treat those people who call your leads well? Do the people who call your leads even care or are they after nothing more than a pay cheque?
These are the unanswered questions that get lost in conversations about why your business needs more leads.
More leads won’t help if your salespeople burn them or don’t know how to convert each lead into a customer that becomes a raving fan and introduces more people (leads) for free.
Treat one lead really well.
I had a sales guy that used to work for me. He treated one lead in Queensland, Australia really well. He spoke to him every day. He knew a lot about the persons family. He even went to the leads barbecue.
That lead was so impressed that he referred several hundred (that we could track) leads to our business. Treating one lead really well is far more powerful than buying more leads who don’t care about what you do.
Digital marketing has become a drug that every business thinks they need.
If only the business world knew the power of one lead.
The good cause factor.
Your business may do something simple like mow lawns.
That may not sound like a life-changing business that can take this lead advice I’m giving onboard. “My business is simple,” you say to me.
Well, I’d challenge that. Any business can have what I call the ‘Good Cause Factor.”
Let be give you an example. The local butcher down the road from me has a BBQ every Saturday afternoon where they invite the community to come and eat some food for free. Everyone is welcome including the few homeless people in the area that never buy any meat from their business.
People stand out the front of that butcher and talk about things that are happening in the community. This Saturday ritual has become a place where business ideas have flourished, homeless issues have been discussed and people who were lonely and possibly suicidal, decided to live for a bit longer.
The last part is the most interesting. In my community here in suburban Melbourne, there is a large group of people that suffer from mental illness. When I went through my own battle with mental illness, I went to the local town hall where people gathered who suffered from the same condition.
It was that event every Wednesday that helped me become a different person.The loneliness and the isolation I felt were cured by the simple act of connecting with other people and having the guts to talk about the demons I was facing.
These same people go to our local butcher on Saturday and eat at the free BBQ. The butcher is thoughtful and they know that they are doing something far more important than selling meat; they’re selling connection to the community, and a possible solution for isolation and loneliness that leads to mental illness.
So back to the point of this post, the community butcher is selling a good cause — an X Factor as some people would call it.
What your business does with its resources to help a worthy cause that affects humans like you and I is just as important as sales funnels, lead generation and your product roadmap.
Link your business to a worthy cause no matter how simple it is.
I lose my mind when people talk about lead quality.
The quality of leads comes down to the quality of people talking to those leads and what you have to offer. Even the coldest lead can buy from you if you know how to find their problem — which they may not know they have — and use your product or service to enhance their life.
Quality of leads is a myth. All leads are equal.
No matter what stage of the sales funnel someone is in, they can be converted by the right business, with the right message and the right intentions to serve rather than take.
More leads are not the answer.
I know you want more leads. We all do.
I’m telling you to think much wider and deeper than that. If all we had to do was get more leads and we’d become the next Bill Gates, we’d be all billionaires.
I could go and set up a business that does nothing more than generate leads and call my business the ‘Billionaire Factory.’ One, two, lead, wham, bam and now you’re rich.
Refine your business down to helping one lead.
Make that lead believe in you.
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