In recent years, it’s become more and more common for business owners to transform their brick-and-mortar companies with on-site staff into mobile ventures that can be run from the road. There are several benefits of transitioning to a remote-based business model, including (sometimes drastically) reduced overhead and a leaner production process — not to mention greater freedom and opportunities to travel, make new connections, and expand the business’ range to other areas of the country.
Whether you’re starting a remote-based business from scratch or transitioning from a more traditional model, maximizing your operational efficiency will take considerable strategy and leveraging of technology. The following steps can help you run your business while on the road and improve your success in a variety of ways.
Create a Well-Prepared Team
The most important preparation for taking your business mobile and remote is to prepare your team to work without your direct input and make crucial decisions if necessary. This step can be challenging because it requires forethought and a variety of training methods to ensure that your team fully understands how to run the business and react to emergencies when you’re not immediately accessible.
For example, you can offer specialized training for emergencies — such as an unforeseen gap in inventory, or the all-too-common mobile connectivity problems from the road — and the proper ways to respond to them. It’s also important to create a check-in situation wherein your employees communicate periodically throughout the day to let you know how things are going. This can enable you to, let’s say, find new business at trade shows or attend an industry conference (or even take a vacation!) without worrying about how your day-to-day operations are running.
Instill Self-Sustaining Processes
Another way to help your team prepare for working remotely and independently is to create self-sustaining procedures that will help them maintain daily operations. Begin by brainstorming to anticipate the issues your team is likely to face in the absence of direct contact and guidance from you, then develop responsive procedures accordingly and test a few practice runs to see how well they react in your absence. If the team struggles to implement your processes, adjust as necessary until they can contribute the input needed to respond to glitches and still run daily operations correctly.
Automating tasks is another smart way to lay the groundwork for smooth-running sustainability. The right combination of software, online offerings, and apps can make it easier for your employees to create daily entries in accounts payable/receivable, track tax calculations, stay on top of payroll, fulfill inventory and delivery requirements, etc.
Improve Your Technology
A remote-based business is only successful if its technology is up to date. For example, you need high-quality Wi-Fi that keeps you and your staff in touch with the company at all times. You also need cloud-based storage options, which can help ensure that your information is backed up regularly and accessible at all times — and also that client data and other sensitive info is kept secure.
Updates also mean that you can utilize the latest communication and project management apps to track how a project is developing. Project management apps let your employees update their progress on a project in real time — and let you know where the overall progress stands at all times. Cloud storage enables you to access this work at any time to gauge how well it’s been implemented and where to direct your energies next.
Don’t Be Afraid of Outsourcing
For years, “outsourcing” was considered a dirty word for many companies. As technology has changed the employment market and business processes, most companies have come to understand that outsourcing, approached correctly, won’t put their employees out of a job, but instead can offer numerous benefits to them and the company. These advantages are particularly potent if you’re running a mostly mobile business. Simply put: It’s likely that you won’t have time to manage alone all the duties of running a business; you can easily hire skilled professionals to manage them for you, instead.
For example, you can outsource many daily tasks to ensure that they’re maintained regularly. Hire other professionals to fulfill social media, marketing, bookkeeping, data entry, and payroll duties. There’s nothing quite like having the peace of mind in knowing that your company is running smoothly without you while you’re on the road trying to find new business.
An additional perk to outsourcing is that you and your employees will be freed up to focus on the more integral elements of the business’ operations, and could even benefit creatively from the increased brain space by brainstorming new strategies to implement or new directions to move toward.
Build Good Relationships in remote team
Strong relationships form the core of any successful venture, but trying to build relationships with people across the nation or world is more difficult if you’re stuck in one city. Taking advantage of remote capabilities can let you regularly meet and stay in touch with your contacts — and prospect for new ones — regardless of their physical location or yours.
Ironically enough, remote connectivity also can help you build working relationships with people in cities with vibrant business centers like Atlanta or Omaha. These places offer unique financial opportunities, a wealth of remote workforce options, and reasonable rents for employees (or yourself).
One more factor to consider: If you own a place in your business’ core city but don’t spend as much time there as you’d like, consider renting out your home while you’re on the road. The benefit of this is significant: You can take that extra money and invest it back into your business or use it to augment future developments.
As you can see, many tips are available for those who want to take their business life on the road. While it takes some effort to achieve a suitable work/life balance in the context of remote work, you can master the necessary skills to create the type of mobile business you want. And you can build the capacity to sustain your business while you travel. There’s not much better than that!
About the author:
Molly Barnes is a full-time digital nomad. She works remotely, travels constantly and explores different cities across the U.S. She started her site, www.digitalnomadlife.org as a resource for travelers, nomads, and remote workers.