How to build a small business with a virtual team?
The wide availability of remote, freelance labor means that there is no need to limit your small business ideas or goals. You can find the perfect people for any position without having to worry about geographical location as long as they have an internet connection and a laptop (or even just a smartphone).
Technology has enabled new possibilities for entrepreneurs in ways we’ve never seen before. Whether you’re looking for virtual assistants, graphic designers, writers, or sales professionals, it’s possible with almost anyone on this planet today.
We live in a time where more and more people work remotely, as freelance contractors or employees of distributed team companies. So it’s no surprise that most Fortune 500 Companies have some aspect of their business run from remote locations (i.e., call centers).
This blog post discusses how entrepreneurs can build any small business idea successfully by using a virtual team instead of limiting themselves geographically or financially.
What Is A Virtual Team?
A virtual team is a group of people who work together to achieve company objectives and goals but are not physically in the exact location. This approach could mean an adequate office space with a distributed team or mean hiring remote freelancers.
What Benefits Does A Virtual Team Have?
- Flexibility: Employees can choose when they want to work (depending on their availability) and where they want to do it from.
- Accessibility: You don’t need an office for your business anymore because employees will be able to get their job done remotely with just an internet connection.
- Cost-Effectiveness: Remote workers generally charge less than those employed locally, which means you’ll save money on payroll expenses. But there are other costs involved that we’ll discuss below.
What Are The Drawbacks Of Virtual Teams?
- Communication: It cannot be easy to have effective communication with remote workers. You’ll need to supplement in-person meetings or phone conversations with online video calls and group chat programs (like Slack).
Why Should You Use A Virtual Team In Your Small Business?
With a virtual team, you have access to a larger talent pool with remote employees. This approach means that you can find the perfect person for your business, no matter where they live or work.
You might be able to hire someone experienced and knowledgeable in their given field at an affordable price because of increased competition among freelancers on platforms like Upwork. In addition, these workers are not limited by location, so you will never run into issues related to commuting time, traffic, gas prices, etc., as long as they are connected online when working for your company.
This approach can be efficient if you have a service business where providing customer support is essential since you can hire agents as needed depending on the needs of each day rather than always having to staff someone full time.
As with all things, there are challenges, too, when managing work schedules in different time zones, but I’m confident that these issues will continue to improve as more companies adopt remote work policies.
There are many benefits to running your business with a virtual team, but there are also challenges you will need to overcome, like time zone differences and managing different personalities. However, if you address these challenges successfully, your business can be just as successful as those that operate in more traditional ways.
Depending on the size of your company, you need to do the following:
- If you’re a startup that needs help with research, accounting, or other basic tasks, then hire remote workers for these duties. This approach will allow you to focus on getting your business off the ground.
- If you have more experience in sales but don’t want the responsibility of hiring staff, use virtual team members for this function instead! They can work from home, which means less overhead costs like office space and equipment maintenance – so it’s cheaper than traditional staffing.
How To Build A Virtual Team For Your Small Business?
The first step in building a great distributed workforce is setting goals for the company’s employees.
A virtual team is most successful when given clear and specific objectives for the work that needs to be done. For example, products can’t go out with a design flaw or error in tagging – a tangible goal will allow you to give your employees tasks that help them contribute towards success while also ensuring quality at every step of production.
If there is any question about what should be included in these goals, it should always start with two questions: “Why?” and “What if we don’t?” These simple queries ensure that everything has been considered because, ultimately, your business depends on each one of your team members to make sure your project succeeds.
Setting up clear expectations will also make it easier for employees to know when they’re doing well or if they need improvement in certain areas.
While some people think the lack of physical interaction is not enough contact between co-workers, establishing ground rules as part of the team-building process can actually help avoid miscommunication and frustration among teammates working remotely from one another.
How To Find The Perfect People For Your Virtual Team?
- Post your job description and wait for candidates to apply, or post on LinkedIn or elsewhere in the industry. Choose people based on their past experience, not just what they are looking for at that moment. If you want someone with a specific skill set, make sure they have been using it recently.
- Visit chat rooms like Reddit and Quora to find employees who might be interested in remote work opportunities as well as other companies who may know of potential talent.
- Look out for any online groups related to virtual teams (e.g., Slack channels). Sign up if there’s an opportunity, even if you don’t have jobs available right now, because these communities can help connect managers with good workers down the line when new positions open up.
- When looking for talent, look out for people with skills that match your needs and company culture – whether they are local or not.
- Check out websites like Remote.co and the Work Anywhere Index to find companies that are known for hiring remote workers.
- Look for people who are already living in the same area as your company’s headquarters.
- Use a site like ProZ to find freelance translators, editors, or graphic designers you can work with remotely, and then approach them about joining your team.
What Tasks Can Be Delegated To Your Virtual Team?
You can delegate any tasks that require a lower level of skill than you have. This may include but is not limited to design work, data entry, and internet research. Even though you’ll need to be available for global email communication with your team, it frees up your time to focus on your business’s more prominent picture aspects, such as strategy and client relations.
Some examples of tasks you may delegate to your virtual team include:
- Answer customer service inquiries or questions via email, chat, phone call, web form.
- Manage your social media channels (e.g., Facebook Groups) and Instagram account by sharing content from other platforms you are part of and posting original content that reflects the tone of your company’s voice to engage with your audience.
- Help set up a new business in another country to expand internationally – talent is available for all kinds of industries.
- Video production: create videos such as product reviews of client products; video interviews with clients about their business goals; informational how-to tutorials like setting up WordPress on an iPhone. Your virtual team can produce these quickly and cheaply without needing a prominent studio setup member.
- Technical support: do you have a product with an interactive interface? A virtual team can provide low-cost timezone coverage to answer customer questions about your product.
- Virtual assistant: the right team can answer customer questions, generate sales leads, and book appointments.
The key to this type of project is starting small – the best approach for a new business is usually one person working part-time in the desired location.
However, once you have developed expertise with your virtual team member and are delivering high-quality work consistently, then it’s worth considering adding more people to do tasks such as video production or support related to product development like technical feedback.
It might also be worthwhile at that point to look into hiring some remote staff within your home country who speak different languages so that international expansion becomes an option.
Tips On How To Manage A Remote Staff
- Communicate regularly with your team: use Skype, Google Hangouts, or similar tools to have video conferences to see everyone in the meeting and have instant messaging during a chat window for additional communication. This is especially important when taking on projects that require close collaboration between multiple team members.
- Establish guidelines for remote work: set up a shared document outlining acceptable working hours; establish protocols around file sharing (for example, using Dropbox); specify how often somebody should check email before responding – every day? Every week?
- Reach out to other small businesses who use virtual teams to ask for their advice about hiring contractors across borders/different time zones. Interview at least one business owner of a company who uses remote team members to help grow their small business and ask them the following questions: “Why did you decide to hire contractors on your team?”, “What are some challenges/benefits of having your own distributed workforce?”, “How do you establish clear communication with people who work remotely across borders/different time zones?”, “What tools are most valuable for communicating both internally and externally with employees in other locations?”
The Importance Of Clear Communication And Trust
As your virtual workforce grows, what aspects might need more attention or clarification? Of course, the biggest challenge is establishing clear communication guidelines and protocols about file sharing, so everyone understands the rules around working together seamlessly without frustration between workers located across various borders/different time zones.
Automatically generating a contract or agreement for all employees to sign is an option. The terms of this agreement must be clear and concise, so there aren’t any misunderstandings among team members.
Though it may seem daunting at first, when you have the right tools in place – such as those mentioned above – working remotely can be just as successful (if not more) than regular office work!
Examples Of Successful Businesses That Have Used Virtual Teams
- Etsy is a global e-commerce company. Etsy has come to rely on distributed teams of employees working remotely with the use of modern technology and virtual tools for collaboration.
- Zipcar is an American car rental startup corporation headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that operates vehicles by the hour or day through its iPad application at one’s destination (e.g., neighborhood grocery store) without picking up keys from physical locations
- Deloitte Consulting – Deloitte utilizes over 80% of remote consultants across their workforce to service their clients’ needs
- Dropbox – Employees at Dropbox work remotely from any location that has an internet connection.
- Ryan Holmes, Founder and CEO of Hootsuite Media Inc. (a web-based social media management service) grew his business from a startup with five people in 2008 to over 500 employees today by relying on a distributed team.
- Wistia is another company that has found success through the use of virtual teams since 2007.
- Zumba offers dance fitness classes that are taught by instructors who work remotely.
- Cher, a freelance writer, and editor are building her business with the help of virtual assistants from Upwork. She started using them effectively about 18 months ago to meet tight deadlines for editing manuscripts and other tasks like social media management – something she didn’t have time for in-between writing projects on her work schedule. Having access to these extra hands has meant Cher can now focus more on being creative while taking care of everything else needed to run this side hustle!
Virtual teams aren’t for every business, but it is worth considering if you’re looking to grow your small business by partnering up with other talented people from around the world or need help on a part-time basis as your team expands. The efficiency and cost-effectiveness gained from using this type of talent can be well worth exploring!
Enjoyed this article? Learn more about virtual teams management here: Managing Virtual Teams [The Ultimate Guide] and here: Managing Successful Virtual Teams – 6 Tactics For Success
For many small businesses, the solution to limited resources is a distributed or remote team. Virtual assistants and freelancers can help your business grow without taking up too much of your time or budget.
Have you considered using virtual employees? If not, it might be worth exploring this option.